It is the captain of the toes, after all. And rank must be respected. In this case, for Bulls rookie forward Chandler Hutchison, it’s rest and recovery until he gets his footing, as it were.
"Obviously," agreed Bulls coach Jim Boylen, "we know how important our big toe is to the functionality of our body."
And so, Hutchison Sunday before the Bulls hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers was wearing a boot on his right foot. That it was just on one foot with yet another snow storm bearing down on the Chicago area was one of the first worrisome signs.
Hutchison is out at least through the All-Star break with what the Bulls termed "an acute injury to a sesamoid bone in his right foot." The team said he will be reevaluated after that. Hutchison said the injury occurred on the last play of the loss to Atlanta on Wednesday when Justin Anderson attempted to dunk with about 10 seconds left, even with the Hawks leading by 18 points. Hutchison attempted to block the dunk and apparently landed awkwardly.
Though the awkward part also was the violation of that unwritten rule about not trying to score at the end of a game when leading by double digits. Though the Hawks later said the Bulls provoked the attempt to score by double teaming Anderson at mid court despite the margin.
Somebody needs to write these things down.
"Kind of that bozo play from Justin Anderson," Hutchison explained about the injury. "Trying to go up for a dunk at the end. Kind of dumb."
The result was embarrassing for the Bulls with the home loss to the lottery bound Hawks. Hutchison confronted Anderson and then Bobby Portis drew a foul when the Hawks were shooting free throws with some varied pushing and shoving. There also was some history from earlier in the game with Anderson dunked viciously over Portis, a play that was highlighted on social media.
"It did happen, literally, the last play of the Atlanta game, going up to contest the dunk," Hutchison told reporters before the Cleveland game. "Felt weird, thought I’d jammed it. Put some ice on it, get some treatment, practice the next day. Little bit of pain, but nothing I thought would keep me out the next day. it wasn’t like ‘Oh my gosh I can’t play the next game.’ I practiced the whole time (Thursday). Then throughout the game, playing extended minutes I noticed a little more pain that maybe I should check it out, get an opinion, talk to the doctor about it. They noticed there was something in there; so couple of weeks off it and after All-Star reevaluate."
Hutchison said he didn’t think it was anything more than just the usual bruises of an NBA season. He had his best game of his career and first double/double with 12 points and 12 rebounds Friday against the Clippers.
"After the game, with my adrenaline, too, I didn’t really know there was anything out of the ordinary," Hutchison said. "You jam your finger. You’re good, then practice and play. Thought I was going to be fine, take some Advil, play through it.
I guess playing on it, 40 minutes is a long game; the discomfort was a little bit higher. I thought maybe it would have gotten better, decided to get it checked out."
An MRI Saturday morning revealed the injury and Hutchison joined a long list of Bulls players this season struck down with fellow rookie Wendell Carter Jr. joining Denzel Valentine out for the season. Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Bobby Portis previously missed almost two months each with injuries.
"It always seems like the worse timing," Hutchison said. "Especially this year as a group, how this year has gone with not just my injury. But we have guys who are going to get opportunities. That’s how this year has been. It’s part of it.
You don’t want to make excuses, but, yeah, we have had quite a bit. We haven’t had a long stretch of time where guys have been healthy and ready to go, but just got to find a way to power through it."
Since the injury actually occurred Wednesday, Hutchison was asked if he should have sat out Friday when he played his career high minutes. But Hutchison said it even could have been an aggravation of an injury he had long ago.
"It’s just a matter of resting it to make it feel better," Hutchison said. "I don’t think one game is going to put me out another week because I played on it. It’s just something that as soon as we figured out what it was we’ve just got to take care of it."
The rangy 6-7 forward is averaging 5.2 points and 4.2 rebounds for the season. But he has scored in double figures in four of the last seven games. In that span, he is averaging 9.4 points and six rebounds.
"I knew that it was just a matter of me being comfortable and getting out there and playing with the guys and having them trust me a little bit more and coaches trusting me, understanding that I’m reliable out there having the ball in my hands and also taking care of what I need to be doing on defense and just playing the right way," Hutchison added. "I knew it was going to come eventually, but I’d rather have me playing the way I am now and then (the injury) happen than to still maybe not finding my way and then it happens. At least there’s something that I can build off and stay positive while I’m out and then try to pick back up where I’ve been a little bit more successful when I come back and when I get back on the court."