No soph spot for snubbed Jimmy Butler
BY JOE COWLEY firstname.lastname@example.org January 30, 2013 10:22PM
Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) puts up a shot against Milwaukee Tobias Harris, right, during the first half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
Updated: March 2, 2013 11:50AM
MILWAUKEE — It appears the only way swingman Jimmy Butler will get that trip back home to Houston for All-Star Weekend is if he pays for it himself.
The rosters for the 2013 Rising Stars Challenge were announced Wednesday, and Butler’s hopes to make the sophomore team were dashed despite his emergence this season.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving headlined the group of second-year players headed to Texas along with Kenneth Faried (Nuggets), Brandon Knight (Pistons), Kawhi Leonard (Spurs), Chandler Parsons (Rockets), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Tristan Thompson (Cavaliers), Nikola Vucevic (Magic) and Kemba Walker (Bobcats).
“I let [the snub] fall off [my shoulders],’’ Butler said. “I don’t look at things like that because I look at that as more of an individual thing.
‘‘Kudos to those guys because they’re great players, and they’re really talented, but I love this team, and I want to play alongside these guys. I’ll do whatever it takes for this team to win. I’m a competitor, and I would have competed in that game, of course, but I’m a Bulls player, to tell you the truth.’’
Butler entered the game Wednesday against the Bucks averaging 15 points and 8.2 rebounds in his last six games, but his biggest contribution has been on defense, where he has shown the ability to guard Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade.
“I think the important thing for Jimmy is to keep on doing all the important things he’s doing for our team,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“It really doesn’t matter what other people think. I know how his teammates feel about him and his coaches, and that’s what’s really important.
“His play will do the talking for him.’’
Forward Carlos Boozer tried to get through the pregame workout and test his injured right hamstring, but the decision was made to rest him against the Bucks. Thibodeau opted to start Taj Gibson in Boozer’s place.
Boozer, who suffered the injury in the victory Monday over the Bobcats, was feeling better the last few days but not well enough to play.
The Bulls play Friday in Brooklyn, so that will give Boozer another day off to receive treatment.
Forward Luol Deng started his second consecutive game since missing five with a strained right hamstring, but Thibodeau again lightened his usual workload by using Butler with the second unit Deng usually plays with. Guard Richard Hamilton has been on a minutes watch all season.