Gar Forman

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.”

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

With Trae Young's team workout looming, his trainer clears air on any Bulls rift: 'That's totally false'

Trae Young’s intriguing draft status will make a stop in Chicago this week as he’ll work out for the Bulls, who are believed to be enamored with the playmaking point guard.

Young has been trained by Jimmy Butler’s trainer, Travelle Gaines, who had pointed comments about Bulls general manager Gar Forman in the wake of Butler being traded on draft night last year.

In a now-deleted tweet, Gaines said the Bulls have the worst culture in the league, and that he knows drug dealers with better morals than Forman, calling him a liar.

There was a strong belief Butler was misled by the Bulls in his final meeting with the front office before departing for a European vacation days before the draft. Gaines’ tweet only added fuel to that, as Butler was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn.

There’s been whispers Gaines would try to use his influence with Young against the Bulls, and when reached by NBCSportsChicago.com, Gaines strongly denied the claim.

“I would never discourage Trae or any player from working out or talking to the Bulls,” Gaines said by telephone. “I don’t know where the narrative came from but that’s totally false.”

Young is scheduled to have his workout Thursday in Chicago, and Gaines said the two haven’t even discussed the Bulls in their training sessions. Gaines doesn’t regret his tweet, but he said it wasn’t reflective of his thoughts of the organization en masse.

“What I said a year ago, I was in the moment and those were my feelings at the time,” Gaines said. “But I don’t feel the Bulls are a bad organization or franchise. I love the franchise. I was a huge Michael Jordan fan. The league is better when the Bulls, Knicks and Lakers are great. I want the Bulls to be great again.”

Gaines also trains current Bulls Bobby Portis and Denzel Valentine at his facility in Los Angeles, and noted Portis and Young have run into each other a few times during sessions. Again, Gaines said he operates in the best interests of his clients and not personal agendas.

“(Bobby and Denzel) say they want to get back to the playoffs and I’ll tell them, ‘Get the Bulls back to the playoffs,’” Gaines said.

If Young is the player his greatest supporters believe he is, taking him with the seventh pick would be a step in that direction, even though the Bulls employ Kris Dunn at point guard.

Gaines is a big believer in Young and his potential fit with the Bulls, although he doesn’t believe Young will be around at the No. 7.

“I think Trae would be great for the Bulls,” Gaines said. “Playing alongside Lauri Markkanen and also Zach LaVine, he would be phenomenal for the team and the city of Chicago. He’d be great in that market.”

There’s no doubt Young carries a level of star power that would be attractive to the Bulls, who would love to have someone marketable to their fan base.

“With his work ethic and passion for basketball I think he will be great for the city of Chicago and that great market,” Gaines said.

Nikola Mirotic pulled from practice, left Bulls facility before hesitating to agree to Pelicans trade

Nikola Mirotic pulled from practice, left Bulls facility before hesitating to agree to Pelicans trade

The Bulls and Pelicans had a deal involving Nikola Mirotic early Tuesday afternoon, both sides being so sure of things Mirotic was pulled off the practice floor.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg talked to Mirotic, and Mirotic left the Advocate Center believing his time with the Bulls was over. 

But before the deal sending Mirotic to New Orleans and bringing Omer Asik and a first-round pick to the Bulls could be finalized, Mirotic hesitated, according to multiple sources. 

And that's where he stands now, in a moment of pause as he contemplates waiving his no-trade clause for a fresh start. 

It's certainly complicated and to large measure, out of the Bulls' hands. Mirotic wants to ensure he pockets his $12.5 million for next season, but the small-market Pelicans have big money committed to franchise cornerstone Anthony Davis, guard Jrue Holiday and want to retain DeMarcus Cousins for the foreseeable future. 

Mirotic is with the Bulls in Portland as they begin their three-game west swing and understandably, doesn't want to forfeit his Bird Rights in a deal that won't have his team option picked up--at least by the appearance of things. 

The Bulls have been searching for a suitor for Mirotic after having talks with the Utah Jazz, Mirotic's preferred destination. The Bulls are enamored with Jazz swingman Rodney Hood but the Jazz aren't willing to part with Hood, and the Bulls are sticking firm to at least receiving a cost-controlled first round pick in this sunmer's star-studded draft. 

Then with Cousins' Achilles injury last week, a need opened for the Pelicans and oppprtunity appeared for the Bulls. 

The Bulls thought they had a deal that crossed off several requirements--notably Asik's $3 million buyout after the 2018-19 season, and now one wonders what kind of awkward existence there will be in the meantime between the two parties.

After all, Mirotic made it known he wanted to be a starter and no longer wishes to be in Chicago, especially after his incident with Bobby Portis before the start of the regular season. 

The Bulls and Mirotic have navigated that turbulence, with Mirotic playing the best basketball of his career and the Bulls wanting to grant his wishes. 

Bulls executive Vice President John Paxson has been clear since taking more of the reins, that any Bull that doesn't want to be a Bull will be accommodated. 

But Mirotic put another snag in that plan with his hesitation over his future, considering there's so many unknowns with the Pelicans and their cap situation. 

And now, the Bulls and Pelicans are waiting on Mirotic's answer--as the clock is rapidly ticking on this uneasy relationship.