BOSTON — Jimmy Butler will most certainly be in Toronto for All-Star weekend, but his availability for Friday night’s game in Boston is in question as he’s suffering from flu-like symptoms and didn’t participate in the morning shootaround.
“Jimmy was at practice yesterday. Just kind of got it overnight,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “So (we’ll) see how he does throughout the day, get him rest obviously, fluids, and kind of see where things go.”
Butler missed out being voted into the All-Star game as a starter by nearly 100,000 votes as Toronto’s Kyle Lowry was voted in by the fans for the second year in a row. Lowry and Miami’s Dwyane Wade will start at the guard spots along with LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. Butler actually finished fourth behind Wade, Lowry and Kyrie Irving in the voting.
Actually, Pau Gasol came within 360 votes of starting ahead of Carmelo Anthony with a late push, likely due to the international voting from his home of Spain.
“Jimmy Butler should be starting (over Wade),” said TNT’s Charles Barkley on the telecast that revealed the starters Thursday night. “He’s been terrific all year. He’s the best player on the Bulls. Other than LeBron James, he’s been the second best player in the Eastern Conference all year.”
Butler, who’s averaging 26.2 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds this month, will likely be voted in by the coaches for the second straight year.
“Jimmy I think is very deserving this year with the consistency he’s had with his play all year, being a two-way player,” Hoiberg said. “I think we’re confident that Jimmy will be in Toronto over All-Star Weekend, but it is great for our league. No doubt about it. Especially with it being Kobe’s last year. I think this could be a special one.”
Butler is averaging 22.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists on the season while leading the league in minutes. Derrick Rose finished seventh in voting for backcourt members, but said he didn’t pay much attention to it.
“All-Star is great, huge accomplishment, great accolade, great to have on your resume. But don’t define the player I am or someone is just because of All-Star game,” he said.
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Rose endorses Butler’s sure-fire candidacy for one of the seven reserve spots, but doesn’t think he’s done enough to go.
“Nah, not at all,” Rose said. “Just the year. I’ve missed too many games. That’s about it. I don’t care about what people think or say. It’s whatever they say. The only thing I can do is just keep working on my game and keep focusing on what I’ve been focusing on.”
And perhaps tired of the questions about his game, Rose went rhetorical when asked if he was the same player he once was. Rose is having his best scoring month, averaging 19 points on 49 percent shooting in 31.1 minutes. He scored 29 in the Bulls' 31-point loss to Golden State Wednesday
“You can’t see it? What you want me to say it? You can’t see it when I’m out there? I hope so,” he said. “Whenever I step on the floor, I just try to play my heart out. Try to play aggressive and win a game for one and with the team we’re on, I have to be more vocal as far as becoming a leader.”