Butler’s injured toe could keep Bulls’ guard out until December
BY JOE COWLEY Staff Reporter November 20, 2013 4:20PM
Updated: November 21, 2013 12:26PM
DENVER — The Bulls announced Wednesday that shooting guard Jimmy Butler stayed behind in Chicago because of turf toe on his right big toe.
He was listed as week-to-week, but coach Tom Thibodeau didn’t want to start throwing timetables around.
“I don’t even want to speculate,’’ said Thibodeau, whose team begins a six-game road trip Thursday against the Nuggets. “He has to get the swelling out first.’’
The best-case scenario would be for Butler to be re-evaluated next week after the game against the Pistons and be ready for the Nov. 30 game against the Cavaliers, the last stop on the road trip, but he likely won’t play until at least a week or two into December.
“It’s too bad,’’ backup big man Taj Gibson said. “Jimmy has been working really hard. But this happens with the style of ball that we play. We all go all out every game, so guys get banged up.’’
It’s another setback for Butler in a season of setbacks.
“That’s exactly what happened,’’ Thibodeau said of the roller-coaster ride for Butler. “He was playing great at the start of camp, then got hurt [left knee] and missed a significant amount of time. He had a hard time finding his rhythm again. He has been playing really well of late. He has put in an inordinate amount of time working on his shooting, coming in every night. He has really shot the ball well the last three or four games. He knows what he has to do. He’ll be fine.’’
Butler is averaging 11.2 points and was averaging 12.3 over his last four games, including the 86-81 victory Monday against the Bobcats in which he left the game in the third quarter with the injury, was looked at and went back in until Thibodeau felt the toe was too much of a hindrance.
“You have your medical team back there,’’ Thibodeau said. “They’re telling you whether a guy can go or not. I have to trust the trainer, trust the doctor and obviously trust Jimmy. He wanted to give it a shot. They thought he could, so we did. That’s the way it worked out.’’
Kirk Hinrich and Mike Dunleavy are the leading candidates to take over for Butler, but Thibodeau said he wasn’t sure which way he was leaning.
“There are a lot of things that you’re looking at,’’ Thibodeau said. “You’re looking at matchups, trying to keep units together.
“I want to see what works best for the team. We’ll get a look at it [Thursday] and have a better feel for where we are.’’
Hinrich and Dunleavy didn’t seem concerned about who starts or comes off the bench.
“It hurts,’’ Hinrich said. ‘‘It’s a big loss. Everybody has to step up. My mind-set really isn’t going to change.
“I’m willing to do whatever.’’
As was Dunleavy.
“Obviously, there are minutes to fill with Jimmy out, and I think we can do that from a lot of different areas,’’ Dunleavy said. “The good thing is there’s depth on this team. We have guys that can step in and hopefully pick up the slack.
“The hope is Jimmy will be back sooner than later, but we got to go with who we got.’’