Positional need could force Bulls to give Hutchison a longer trial
Eleventh in a series
The story of Bulls forward Chandler Hutchison is more complicated than it might seem.
The short version is he can't play if he can't play. The 6-foot-7 native of Mission Viejo, Calif., has missed 75 games in two seasons.
He missed the final 38 games of his rookie season due to a broken toe. This year, he endured what felt like a nonstop run of bad luck: Hamstring strain before training camp, shin splints, bruised shoulder, then recurrence of the bruised shoulder. Hutchison appeared in just 28 of 65 games this season.
On top of that, the stats didn't help his cause. He was last on the team in plus-minus and net rating, and was in most of the Bulls' worst lineups.
There are a couple areas where Hutchison did well. One was rebound percentage, which is a good sign since rebounding was one of the Bulls' biggest weaknesses. The other was pace. The Bulls played fastest when Hutchison was on the floor.
Here's what makes the situation complicated. Since Otto Porter has been disappointing (and frequently injured), the Bulls have a glaring need for a rangy, versatile small forward and Hutchison fits the mold.
Hutchison is under contract for next season at $2.4 million. He could probably have expected an extended tryout from previous Bulls management, since John Paxson and Gar Forman essentially spent $14 million -- what was left on Omer Asik's contract -- to acquire the draft pick the Bulls got from New Orleans and used on Hutchison.
The new management team of Arturas Karnisovas and Marc Eversley might have different ideas. After all the injuries, it will be a surprise if the Bulls pick up Hutchison's fourth-year option this fall.
It's tough to look past the injuries and Hutchison has been more frustrated by it than anyone. Here's a theory to explain his statistical abnormalities: Since he's missed so much time, Hutchison doesn't have a great handle on how to fit into the Bulls' system on either end of the floor. He's a little lost on the team concept.
But after his long layoff with the shoulder injury this season, he decided to play to his strengths -- which is basically collect as many defensive rebounds as he can and attack. Hutchison has the ballhandling skills to grab a rebound and go. He's not a spectacular athlete, but can put pressure on defenses when he attacks the rim.
It's possible to imagine Hutchison as a quality NBA role player, especially if he develops a more reliable 3-point shot. Ideally, the Bulls would be able to send Hutchison to the G-League early next season and let him prove he can stay healthy, while learning more about the Bulls' system.
As it stands now, though, there aren't any other players like him on the Bulls' roster, which could make trips to Hoffman Estates tougher to fit into the schedule.