Blackhawks patience with Parise could prove costly


Blackhawks patience with Parise could prove costly

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter have been courted since Canada Day; they wont announce their respective decisions until at least Independence Day.

Several teams are waiting to see if they have a chance at landing either, or both, of the highly coveted free agents. The Chicago Blackhawks are one of those teams, as theyve shown interest in Parise. The New Jersey Devils forward has much to consider, and when he arrived back in Minnesota Tuesday, he told Michael Russo of Minneapolis Star Tribune that hes putting no timetable on his decision.

Theres a lot of things to factor into it and I think thats why were taking our time with the decision, said Parise, whos also being courted by the Wild, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, as well as the Devils. Its not something we can just make at 1 oclock on July 1. It takes time to make sure you consider everything and youre doing the right thing.

Parise also talked to Josh Rimer of NHL Home Ice on Tuesday night. He told Rimer that hes talked to Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello three or four times a day during this process, that hes talked with Suter the past few days and would love to play on a team with a defenseman like Ryan Suter. Parise added that the free-agency process has been much more than I anticipated it to be.

The forward told Rimer hes getting closer to a making a decision, and will spend July 4 on the lake mulling things over.

But as the Blackhawks wait, the free-agency pool gets more shallow. Other free agents are being signed and other trades are being made. And other than the Blackhawks acquiring Sheldon Brookbank on Sunday, theyve been quiet.

In going after Parise, the Blackhawks are showing some gumption. Theyre willing to make a big pitch to land a very big, and very talented, fish. And if they pull it off, even though Parise doesnt solve their bigger needs, hes nevertheless one hell of an addition.

The question is, what if they dont?

In the four days since PariseSuter watch began, there have been a myriad of pickups and moves. Defensemen such as Jason Garrison and Sheldon Souray have signed with others. Center Derek Roy was dealt to the Dallas Stars for feisty, and effective, forward Steve Ott.

Theyre all pretty talented players, all pieces that may have fit somewhere in the Blackhawks puzzle. If they dont land their big fish, its more likely the Blackhawks will have to look at trades to address their needs.

Maybe the Blackhawks are playing the greatest cloak-and-dagger game of all time. Maybe theyre scheming to go for both Parise and Suter. The Wild are doing that Parises a native Minnesotan and Russo reported that the Wild sent a contingent to Suters farm. But all indications are that Parise is the Blackhawks main target.

Sooner or later, the leagues top free agents will make their choices. And if Parise doesnt choose the Blackhawks, theyll be the ones having to make decisions.

Admitted promise or not, the Bulls knew they wanted Chandler Hutchison – and they got him

Admitted promise or not, the Bulls knew they wanted Chandler Hutchison – and they got him

Neither John Paxson nor Chandler Hutchison himself would admit to what many called the worst kept secret in the pre-draft process. So whether you believe the Boise State senior had a promise from the Bulls that they would select him with the 22nd pick if still available, what Paxson and Gar Forman made clear was that they wanted Hutchison. And they got him.

“There are storylines and rumors all the time in this business and to keep trying to respond to them is often difficult. We liked Chandler a lot,” John Paxson said at the Advocate Center. We scouted him early, we scouted him often and we had our eye on him. He knew we liked him. Most players know when you like them, if you show up a lot and you’re around.”

There was plenty to like. Hutchison blossomed as an upperclassman at Boise State - after a unique basketball upbringing - averaging 18.7 points and 7.7 rebounds in his final two seasons with the Broncos. His 6-foot-7 NBA-ready frame kept him closer to the basket, leading to the efficient scoring and a blistering 72 percent at the rim, but keeping him a work in project on the perimeter.

He projects as a plus-defender who can defend on the wing and on the block in small-ball lineups and, as a four-year college player, should find minutes in a wing-depleted rotation. Put another way: he’s versatile at a position the Bulls have needed since the day Jimmy Butler walked out the door. Any shooting will be an added bonus.

But was there a promise, Chandler?

“I didn’t have any guarantee on where I was going," he said. "It could have been anywhere. Honestly, my heart was racing from 15 on. It was an exciting moment, though.”

The Bulls drafting Hutchison kept the theme of the night in Chicago trending after they took Wendell Carter 7th overall: complementary pieces to help an improving roster. Where Hutchison excels – physicality, scoring at the rim, defending multiple positions – the players he’ll share the floor with don’t. It’s easier to hide Denzel Valentine, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen defensively with a physical perimeter threat.

Paxson and Forman mentioned Hutchison's “slashing” multiple times, and that physical, quick style will help a Bulls offense that ranked 28th in the NBA on shots 5 feet and in. That inefficiency was one of the major reasons the team finished 28th efficiency and often struggled to find secondary scoring.

That versatility spans more than just defending, too. Hutchison was asked to become a do-it-all for a Broncos team whose second leading scorer averaged 11.8 points, second leading rebounder averaged 6.6 boards and second leading passer averaged 2.6 assists. Hutchinson did it all for the 23-win Broncos. His usage rate was 33.0, 10th highest in the country and a slight tick above Alabama point guard Collin Sexton (32.5%). His passing, shot creating and eventual shooting make him a Swiss army knife on the wing.

“We think he can put it on the floor and create. He got to the lane a lot as a ball handler. His shot is getting better and better, we think he’ll be able to shoot it from NBA range at some point but that’s an area he’ll have to continue to work on,” Paxson said. “The more guys you have that can handle and create and pass, with the way our game is and the way our floor is spaced, we think he can do those things.”

Promises aside – Hutchison is represented by Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein of Priority Sports, who has plenty of ties to the Bulls – Hutchison checked all the boxes the Bulls were looking for, especially after they passed on wings like Mikal Bridges and Kevin Knox with the 7th pick.

“He addresses a position of need,” Paxson said. “We had debates all through this draft on wings and the type of player we wanted at that position. He fits.”

Wendell Carter Jr. talks up his fit with Lauri Markkanen: 'We're going to be unstoppable'


Wendell Carter Jr. talks up his fit with Lauri Markkanen: 'We're going to be unstoppable'

Draft prospects always get asked about how they would fit in with the best players on various teams. Once they are drafted, that goes double

New Bulls' draft pick Wendell Carter Jr. didn't disappoint with his answer about how he can play with Lauri Markkanen, the Bulls' first-round pick from the year before.

“We’re going to be unstoppable," Carter Jr. said to reporters in Brooklyn. "He is a great player, someone I can learn from. A great young player. Someone I can learn from on and off the court. With my work ethic, as I come in I’m going to do all I can do to help my team to win. I think we’ll definitely complement one another on both ends of the court.”

Carter Jr. could play the center next to Markkanen at the power forward spot to form a formidable frontcourt if both players continue to develop.

On the ESPN broadcast of the draft, Chauncey Billups talked about the two big guys and the state of the Bulls in general after Carter Jr. was picked.

"I love what they're putting together there," Billups said of the Bulls. "I like their backcourt with Dunn and LaVine. These two big guys, him and Markkanen, are going to play very well together."