There was buzz at the NBA draft combine surrounding the Bulls #22 selection and Boise State Senior Chandler Hutchison, who shut down his draft workouts and thus is assumed to have been made a promise to be selected.
Hutchison looks like a perfectly cromulent wing prospect, and checks the Bullsian box of being experienced and proven at the amateur level. But the Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor put out in print another connection that’s been whispered for years:
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.
MANY others, including both Pargos!
And Bartelstein (who’s a Northwestern guy with Reinsdorf’s son, Reinsdorf’s son’s son, and Special Advisor Doug Collins’s son) also represents Sean Kilpatrick, who received an above-market contract late in the season for dubious reasons enough to warrant scrutiny. It wasn’t for basketball reasons, and it wasn’t even for cap reasons - the salary floor is immaterial, and though initially reported otherwise, the most recent CBA eliminated the allowance of non-guaranteed money being used in salary matching in trades. That last bit may indicate that the Bulls didn’t know the new rules, or that they did, and just wanted to give out this contract to this player at this agency.
Again, it hasn’t been confirmed that this promise was made, outside of sketchy outlet like NBADraftDotNet. And this whole agency thing may be nothing too egregious, overall: Priority Sports represents a lot of players, the Bulls used to have a similar speculated too-cozy deal with Arn Tellem, and agent-team relationship is usually a good thing to cultivate. But it’s not when it supersedes scouting, and we’ve seen such too-cozy relationships before with The Bucks and The Knicks.
And the Bulls, by their own admission, have a small (but gritty?) staff, and it’s not unreasonable - though certainly cynical - to believe they leverage relationships as a time-saver when scouting the draft and the league. Thus why fans frequently make nudge-nudge jokes like the one about Hoiberg’s son’s roommate. I went on a vision quest over the weekend to see how perhaps this promise related to Tim Floyd and the Ames Mafia, but maybe this agency connection is all that’s required.
And though bad overall policy, it could work out in this case. Hutchison looks...fine (listen I’m not a draftnik, he could be overrated...mid-level opposition as an older player can skew these things), and Bartelstein also represents Michael Porter.