SAN ANTONIO--If Jimmy Butler had serious concerns about the state of his left knee, the Bulls hope his visit to Dr. James Andrews put it to rest as they embark on their last quarter of the season.
The Bulls issued a statement following Butler’s visit to Dr. Andrews’ office in Pensacola, Fla., stating Dr. Andrews “gave a confirmatory opinion and supports the current management of Butler’s condition and return to play.”
Butler is headed back to Chicago and will continue treatment, as the statement released by the team said he’ll return to play “when appropriate.” Butler could miss a few more games or return sooner depending on how he feels and where his confidence lies in his body.
“He’s going to work-out tonight, and he’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow to see how tonight went,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said before the Bulls lost to the San Antonio Spurs Thursday night. “If everything goes okay, again, we’ll monitor it. I’m sure he’ll want to get another good workout in tomorrow, see how he’s feeling. I wouldn’t rule it out, but at the same time we’re going to be safe with it.’’
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The Bulls will play the Miami Heat Friday at the United Center, and it’s unknown whether he’ll be totally ruled out upon the team’s return to Chicago.
Being a former NBA player, Hoiberg could appreciate and understand Butler needing some form of confirmation that his knee is good enough to play on, so he won’t step on the floor with any doubts.
“I think that’s a big part of it. The mental aspect is huge in something like this,” Hoiberg said. “Jimmy went down and saw one of the best doctors in the world that’s worked on a lot of athletes, and was told that everything was structurally sound in there. That’s what he was looking to hear and wanted to hear, and now it’s about going out there and getting comfortable, and sitting down with Jimmy, putting a plan together on how exactly we’re going to move forward with it.’’
Butler wanted a second opinion on what was termed a left knee strain and cost him 11 games in February, and discomfort after coming back for one game before sitting out Monday against Milwaukee.
Butler looked like himself in 34 minutes but didn’t feel like himself, with swelling in his knee along with back pain. Hoiberg took some shots because of Butler’s heavy usage the day after Saturday’s game.
“Jimmy’s as well conditioned an athlete as I’ve been around,” Hoiberg said. “He does so much to keep himself in great shape. I think that’s why everybody was comfortable with Jimmy coming back 100 percent after his two weeks where he was going through his full workout regimen, and didn’t have any pain or swelling in the knee.”
With most players on this roster who’ve returned from injuries the past couple seasons, they’ve done so with a minute restriction, which didn’t seem to be the case with Butler initially.
That could change, though.
“We’ll discuss all that in the next couple days,” Hoiberg said. “Tonight will be a big step in if that pain has completely subsided and if his back is feeling better, and again get another workout in tomorrow and then we’ll make that determination.’’