Bulls

Bulls: Jimmy Butler doesn't think he'll need surgery but is worried about body

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Bulls: Jimmy Butler doesn't think he'll need surgery but is worried about body

ORLANDO — This Bulls season is a wild roller-coaster, so it’s only fitting their best players ride the wave individually, right?

In the locker room Thursday night at Madison Square Garden following yet another puzzling loss, Jimmy Butler didn’t close the door on offseason knee surgery when speaking to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Saturday morning, he reversed course, sort of.

“Um, I don’t think I’m going to need surgery at the end of the season,” Butler said after the Bulls’ morning shootaround at Orlando’s Amway Center, hours before his team takes on yet another sub .500 team in the Magic.

Butler hasn’t looked himself in the games since returning from a left knee strain he suffered in early February and left open the possibility he’ll need to go under the knife when the season ends.

“No,” he said when asked if anyone suggested he’ll need surgery

[MORE BULLS: How 2015 Game 6 beatdown by Cavaliers foreshadowed disastrous Bulls season]

But whether he actually does or doesn’t need a procedure done shouldn’t obscure the fact something is going on, be with his head or his body, or both.

“I think there’s always a fear—I’m not going to say fear because I’m not really scared of anything. But I think there’s a worry,” Butler said. “I want to play this game as long as I can. I just think maybe resting it is a good thing. But right now is not the time for that. I know we have to win games, I want to play and help when I’m out there.

"I don’t know if it’s hurting or it’s just all in my mind. That’s where it starts. I don’t want to make anything worse. I don’t know what to call it. I just have to go play and stop thinking so much.”

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg keeps insisting the knee is structurally fine, and points to Butler’s visit with Dr. James Andrews as evidence, along with increasing Butler’s minutes in recent games, from 33 a week ago against Utah to 39 minutes Thursday against the Knicks.

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So to summarize: Butler expresses doubt about his body, yet his minutes increase.

“To an extent, yeah,” said Butler when asked if he could handle the workload. “I don’t think it’s going to be as good right now as it was before. That’s fine. You have to learn to play with it and maintain and still get things done. You just have to go play.”

With the playoffs looking more and more like a mirage after being a certainty for so long, Butler doesn’t have time to put in the work he normally does—because of the schedule and the fact his knee needs as much rest as possible on off days.

“Just to keep working. I know how hard I work,” Butler said. “I think everybody knows how hard I work. It’s gonna turn around. I don’t think about it like that. The only thing I think about is how I feel like I’m letting my team down right now. But then again, with the amount of work I put in, the amount of work I’m going to continue to put in, I know it will change. It’s not a big deal to me. I just want to help this team win. That’s the deal that I’m having to deal with now.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

0:15- Introduction to the Bulls Outsiders

3:15- The process of casting the show

9:45- John Sabine's Improv background and comedy's connection to basketball

11:20- What the Outsiders hope to accomplish with the show

13:00- What's great about Bulls fans

14:20- Who is their favorite Bull of all time, outside of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen

26:20- Bold on the court predcitions for the season

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.