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Kirk Hinrich, Jimmy Butler likely are ready for action; status of Luol Deng less certain

Kirk Hinrich John Henson

Kirk Hinrich, John Henson

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Updated: January 25, 2014 6:28AM



To nearly every member of the Bulls’ roster, the litany of injuries the team has suffered is a circumstance nothing less than extraordinary. The team has been a walking health-insurance claim.

Actually it’s pretty safe to call this situation downright unheard of for even some of the veterans.

But guard Kirk Hinrich, who has missed five games with back spasms, brought a little levity to the situation. Hinrich practiced fully with the team Monday ahead of Wednesday’s Christmas Day game at Brooklyn.

“As long I don’t get hurt walking to the car, getting off the couch or anything like that, I plan on playing,” Hinrich said.

“Today was big for me. Get kind of my legs underneath me a little bit. Get a little bit of timing and rhythm. But, yeah, I’m definitely excited to be back.”

Assuming the Bulls don’t redefine rock bottom, it appears safe to pencil Hinrich into the lineup Wednesday.

Jimmy Butler also was a full participant in practice Monday after leaving Thursday’s loss at Oklahoma City with a sprained right ankle. Butler also participated in the team’s contact drills.

Forward Luol Deng’s status for Wednesday wasn’t as optimistic. Deng, who has battled an Achilles injury, did not practice.

Not surprisingly Tom Thibodeau wouldn’t rule out or declare any of the three players healthy for Wednesday’s game. He did indicate it could be a challenge for those guys to get back into game shape.

Butler might have the toughest road, having missed 12 of the team’s 26 games.

“We got to get these guys back; that’s the big thing,” Thibodeau said. “I’m a little concerned with the amount of time guys have missed in terms of practice and playing. I think you can become de-conditioned. As I mentioned the thing about the rehab part of it, we need guys to come in and get two treatments, three treatments a day. We got to get guys back. That’s a commitment that needs to be made to the team.”

Whenever Hinrich returns, he’ll be joined by new teammate D.J. Augustin, who has made an impact since the Bulls claimed him off waivers on Dec. 13.

Augustin is assured to take playing time away from Hinrich. And certainly his addition allows Hinrich to play off the ball more.

Both are fine by Hinrich, who believes reduced minutes could actually help him become more effective. At a minimum, playing less would reduce the likelihood of injuries.

“It’s something we needed. Another guy who can play pick-and-roll,” Hinrich said.

“He’s a great decision-maker, he’s a knock-down shooter and just me personally to get my minutes down a little bit so I can just stay healthier and I feel like I’m more effective that way, too.”

The statuses of Hinrich and Butler could be cemented Tuesday. Both players and Thibodeau will wait to see the effects of Monday’s practice until Tuesday morning.

Asked when he could expect Deng back, Thibodeau said he couldn’t look past Tuesday’s practice, citing the uncertain nature of many injuries. Some guys can start to feel drastically better within a matter of hours.

Thibodeau indicated that even the prospect of predicting whether a healthier Bulls roster could make a move in the downtrodden East was too cloudy to discuss.

“Sometimes a guy can feel a lot better that night,” Thibodeau said. “So that’s the way I look at it.”

It’s a cliché. But considering the Bulls’ luck, that seems like the prudent philosophy.

Email: sgruen@suntimes.com

Twitter: @SethGruen



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