When one comes back, another Bull is out as they embark on a two-game road trip with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance.
Jimmy Butler returned to Bulls practice and didn’t have any setbacks with his left knee strain that required a visit to Dr. James Andrews last week, and he’s on track to play Monday in Toronto.
But the Bulls’ most available high-performing player won’t make the trip, as in center Pau Gasol, who’s had some swelling in his right knee over the last couple of days and underwent a MRI that didn’t show any structural damage.
Gasol will miss the game in Toronto and Washington on Wednesday as he’ll recover in Chicago with hopes of getting back sooner rather than later. Butler will be on a minute restriction but that number wasn’t revealed in Sunday’s practice.
“We’ve got a plan together for Jimmy and we’ll stick to it, and hopefully he reacts well and we can keep him out there rest of the year,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said.
As for Derrick Rose, he’ll travel to Toronto but his status is still very much in the air as he battles a groin injury he suffered in San Antonio Thursday night.
“It’s still too early to tell. He feels significantly better than he did the other day,” Hoiberg said. “It’s just a matter of how he feels in the morning and if he can get through shootaround.”
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The Bulls are one full game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth seed in the East, and going against the Washington Wizards is another team that is looking up at the Bulls as the Bulls are desperately fighting to remain in the postseason.
Bringing Butler back, a player who dropped a bomb on Toronto in their first visit, will certainly help. Losing Gasol could negate that advantage.
“He’s been dealing with some issues with his IT band,” Hoiberg said. “It’s right here. (points) He’s been dealing with that. He has had the kinesio tape. They didn’t have all this high-tech stuff when I was playing. But he’s had some irritation down there. He’s been fighting through it, battling through it. And the knee just swelled up. It’s time to figure out exactly what it is with the swelling and then put a treatment plan together.”