Bulls

Bulls: Butler feeling better after being 'scared' with injury

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Bulls: Butler feeling better after being 'scared' with injury

TORONTO—Jimmy Butler was all smiles as he met with the media during All-Star availability despite his noticeable limp from his left knee and the stiffness that comes from sitting down for a long period of time.

Such as meeting with the pesky media, although he wanted to be in this atmosphere, around his peers despite not being able to play after being selected as an All-Star reserve from the coaches, being replaced by teammate Pau Gasol

“It’s good, getting better. I can move a little bit,” Butler said. “The main thing is not letting it get stiff, so when I get back I can still move it.”

It’s a contrast from when Butler “heard something pop” on that drive in Denver when his left knee gave out a bit, resulting in what the Bulls are calling a left knee strain, which will have him out for three to four weeks, apparently. 

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

He’s doing ice and electric stimulation treatments daily, as his trainer made the trip to Toronto with Butler to monitor him. Butler hopes he can start riding the exercise bike soon and that he has to keep moving around to keep his knee loose.

“Yeah I was scared, like please don’t let anything for real be wrong,” Butler said. “That’s the only question I was asking. Will I have surgery? How long do I have to be out? Can I play in the All-Star game? Knowing what guys history with knees…”

Butler said the team doctors told him it was something about the capsule around his knee, but couldn’t really get into the medical jargon that’s associated with his injury. He hopes the 3-4 week prognosis can be cut, considering the state of affairs with the team.

“Of course I do. I want to play, we have Cleveland coming out of the break? I want to play as soon as possible,” Butler said. “If I can I will, trust me. But I gotta make sure I’m right. I don’t want to re-injure anything.”

[MORE: Hoiberg implores fading Bulls to 'find ourselves' during All-Star break]

One thing he does know and can’t ignore is the Bulls’ slide coming right into the break. Losing five in a row at home and four in a row overall isn’t something Butler has experienced much as a Bull.

“It’s been brutal. Am I surprised? Yes and no,” Butler said. “We know if we don’t guard, if we don’t play hard, we’ll lose. If we change it, we’ll win.”

As the Bulls slip closer and closer to the bottom of the playoff picture, the thought of the big bad Bulls don’t scare opponents anymore and Butler realizes it.

“When people go up against us, they used to think (man), we gotta go up against Chicago,” Butler said. “Right now the way we’re playing as a team, people might be quiet or happy, excited to play against us. That’s not good.”

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

Draft night highlighted the unfulfilling feeling of this past Bulls season

The door has officially been closed on the 2017-18 season for the Chicago Bulls, and the word that most comes to mind is “unfulfilling.”

Or maybe even “indistinguishable.”

Draft night was supposed to be a culmination of a painful seven-month stretch that only had occasional yet costly moments of light.

Death lineup? Meet Death March. And Death April, while we’re at it.

The Bulls brass sold everyone on a full rebuild after trading Jimmy Butler one year ago, with an unspoken promise that this draft would bear franchise-changing fruit—hence the general feeling of angst or even indifference with the solid selection of Wendell Carter Jr. and their not-so-secret affection of Chandler Hutchison.

It was why fans believe the Bulls got cold feet about trading to move up, and why they believe the Bulls weren’t being pragmatic in staying away from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter, some believe, has star written all over him given his prep ranking this time last year and the Bulls were in position to speed up this process without having to go into a painful Process.

They were desperate for a star, believing the tankathon had produced so much suffering it had to be something on the back end.

There was the fight (or the punch).

The aftermath.

The miserable 3-20 start.

The 14-7 streak that produced the audacity of hope.

The reality that 14-7 was damaging enough to the lottery chances that a 3-11 finish couldn’t rectify.

And finally, the coin flip that cost them five spots in the lottery one month ago.

So that empty feeling has less to do with Carter and Hutchison, who’ve done nothing to earn the “blah” reaction from the fan base and some media. It has everything to do with the unanswered questions over the last 82 games and lack of clarity over the three hauls from draft night last year.

It’s not that Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn underperformed individually last season, but the lack of cohesiveness due to injuries and circumstances has led to the varying thoughts.

LaVine is approaching restricted free agency and by all accounts is taking his continuing rehab in Washington very seriously.  Markkanen has added plenty of muscle since the offseason began, appearing as if he can play Michael B. Jordan’s in-ring foil in the next installation of “Creed” as Ivan Drago’s long lost son.

And despite the report about Dunn not working as hard on the floor this offseason, that would be more of a concern if this were late August, not June.

The last time they were seen together on the floor, they looked no closer to a pecking order than the day they arrived.

What we know is that they’re productive NBA players, capable of putting an individual tattoo on a game at a moment’s notice, skillful enough to take your breath away.

And for whatever reason, the expectations changed once the three displayed they could be dynamic on their own—a star needed to be anointed and groomed to go with the star they believed was coming their way after the season.

Management is fully behind Markkanen, but Paxson’s strong words about LaVine at the season-ending news conference illustrated how much it feels LaVine has to prove next season.

With his restricted free agency status looming, the Bulls’ initial offer will show how much they value him until and if he gets a better deal on the market.

And the fact the Bulls weren’t afraid to draft Trae Young while having a healthy debate about Collin Sexton on draft night has to show they have at least some skepticism about the future at point guard.

But stars—developing stars, acquired stars, drafted stars—have to do it on their own. No amount of promotion or prodding from management will validate their faith, if that’s the route the Bulls choose to go.

This has to be a meritocracy or it won’t work and, honestly, it’s time for a reality check.

All the worry about the Bulls getting back to title contention sooner rather than later seems like folks getting ahead of themselves.

The front office has taken its share of shots from media and fans, so some questioning is earned but they’re right about one thing. Rebuilds aren’t completed in a day or 12 months.

Expecting some magic potion to arrive in the form of a top draft pick isn’t going to cure what ills this roster, and it doesn’t seem likely all the cap space will result in a free agent choosing the Bulls over the usual suspects.

However, methodical building can look like complacency if not done with a sense of urgency.

And with urgency in mind, this past season was unsatisfying to say the least—heading into the next phase with two more young pieces to develop while the first three are still in the evaluation stage.

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Loyola's March Madness hero Donte Ingram will play with Bulls' Summer League team

Donte Ingram's 2018 keeps getting better and better.

The March Madness hero, who buried a game-winning 3-pointer in the first round of Loyola's win over Miami, will play on the Bulls' Summer League team.

Ingram, a Simeon Academy graduate, had himself an incredible senior season with the Ramblers, who advanced all the way to the Final Four as a No. 11 seed.

In five NCAA Tournament games Ingram averaged 7.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Ramblers. He also had 18 points in the MVC Conference Championship Game to secure the Ramblers' March Madness berth.

He'll join first-round draft picks Wendell Carter Jr. and Chandler Hutchison on the Las Vegas Summer League team, which will begin play early next month.