Bulls’ Butler out 3 to 6 weeks
CHICAGO (AP) — The banged up Chicago Bulls will have to get by without another key player, with All-Star guard Jimmy Butler joining former MVP Derrick Rose on the sideline.
The Bulls announced Monday that Butler will miss three to six weeks because of a sprained ligament in his left elbow, the latest blow for a team that has rarely been at full strength this season.
“I guess when it rains, it pours,” veteran Kirk Hinrich said. “We can’t sit around and feel sorry for ourselves. Nobody else is going to. We’ve got to find a way.”
Butler, the league leader in minutes per game and the team’s top scorer, had an MRI on Monday. He missed most of the second half of Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Clippers after he ran into a pick by DeAndre Jordan, another hit for a team that has taken plenty.
Chicago (37-23) leads Cleveland by a half game in the Central division and trails Toronto for second in the Eastern Conference by the same margin. But with so many key players banged up, the next few weeks could be difficult for the Bulls.
The Bulls have dropped two of three since the announcement last week that Rose would have knee surgery, and the next seven days could be particularly tough. They host Washington and Oklahoma City on Tuesday and Thursday and visit Indiana and San Antonio on Friday and Sunday before playing Memphis at home on March 9.
“It’s not just (Butler’s) scoring,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Obviously, he’s grown every year. He’s a primary scorer. He’s a great two-way player. He’s a great defender, and we have some other guys that are coming on. As has been the case in the past, whenever somebody gets hurt, it’s an opportunity for someone else to grow and have the opportunity to play.”
Tony Snell figures to start in Butler’s place. He has four straight double-digit scoring games and is averaging 13.5 points over his past 10 games.
The injury to Butler comes on the heels of Rose having surgery Friday to repair a medial meniscus tear in his right knee. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.
Surgery is not expected for Butler. But depending on how quickly he and Rose heal, the Bulls could be without their starting backcourt until around the start of the playoffs.
They are also missing sixth man Taj Gibson, who has a sprained left ankle. All-Star Pau Gasol played through an illness on Sunday and hit just 2 of 13 shots against the Clippers.
“It’s our reality,” Thibodeau said. “We got more than enough to get it done.”