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Never forget the Bulls bailed early on scouting the 2018 draft and instead went with #ThePromise

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Say what you will about GarPax, but they are men of their word

2018 NBA Rookie Photo Shoot Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

If you punch the phrase “The promise” into any search engine, the top results will all point you towards a 2016 film starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon. The movie, set in Turkey around the end of World War I, looks fairly interesting, but sports a lowly 49% Rotten Tomatoes score.

I cannot stop the Google algorithms that associate The Promise with this romantic period piece. What I can do is ensure that in Chicago, The Promise shall from this year on be forever linked with Chandler Hutchison, Mark Bartelstein, and the covenant they forged with Gar Forman and John Paxson after what must have been the most impressive pre-draft workout ever staged.

On May 16, the day before the NBA Draft Combine, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that Hutchison was withdrawing from the event. The rationale, according to Givony, was that Hutchison and his representation had a guarantee from a team that would prevent the Boise State forward from sliding into the second round.

Following the combine, speculation began to swirl as to which team picking in the latter third of the first round had made this alleged pact with Hutchison. The first credible connection between Hutchison and the Bulls came from The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor on May 21:

It’s unclear who made the promise, if one was made at all, but it’s no secret that Hutchison’s agent Mark Bartelstein, the CEO of Chicago-based agency Priority Sports, is a family friend of Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf. The Bulls and Bartelstein have a successful working relationship. Bartelstein has represented a long list of former Bulls, from Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler to Taj Gibson and Bobby Portis, among many others.

By the time the Bulls were on the clock to make the 22nd pick in the draft, there was little mystery around who they had their hearts set on. Immediately after the pick came in, both O’Connor and Woj explicitly stated what many had been insinuating throughout the entire pre-draft process:

To be fair, I did not hate the Hutchison pick when it was announced. Hutchison, an older prospect who didn’t exactly flourish until he was a senior going against Mountain West Conference competition, at least had the physical profile of an NBA wing. And if there’s one thing the Bulls lack in the early stages of this rebuild (or not rebuild, if you’re reading this Pax) it is a player who at least appears to have the physique to play small forward.

Still, I have questions. How many other wing prospects did the Bulls bring in before deciding Hutchison was their man? Forget wings, how many players did the Bulls work out in total? I would hope that, a year after the humiliation of having no players left on the draft board at 36, GarPax were committed to seeing as many prospects as possible. And even if they thought Hutchison was so great, why signal to Bartelstein at all that they are committed to his client? Were they so afraid that a four year college player from Boise State would shoot up draft boards?

And finally, the most important question: What the hell did Chandler Hutchison do in this workout that so powerfully captured the hearts of Chicago’s front office? Was he making full court threes with his eyes closed? Was he dunking from the foul line? Had he pulled off a full John Tucker?

Chandler Hutchison workout footage (dramatization)

Hutchison did not enter the Bulls’ season opener until Fred Hoiberg was 100% certain the remaining minutes would be pure garbage time. Hutchison missed his only field goal attempt and recorded no other box score statistics. He did not play at all Saturday against Detroit. While a late first round pick not getting extended run early in the regular season shouldn’t be concerning, I am sounding the alarm. The circumstances surrounding Hutchinson’s perceived NBA readiness by the front office, and the team’s complete void at the small forward position, makes Hutchison’s absence from the rotation very worrisome.

The Bulls seriously do not have another small forward on the roster other than Hutchison. Justin Holiday starts at the position, but at 6’7 and 181 lbs, Holiday is a shooting guard masquerading at the three. The Bulls supposedly signed Jabari Parker to handle the position, but abandoned the idea after three preseason games. The five man unit that saw the second most time on the court in Philly featured the 6’4 Antonio Blakeney at SF. If the Bulls coaching staff has such little confidence in Hutchison that he’s unable to crack the rotation with this level of competition at his position, that is a problem.

Unless Hutchison starts playing real minutes soon, I promise to make GarPax’s Promise a promise they will forever regret promising. And with all due respect to Oscar Isaac, this is The Promise that will forever resonate with me.