Bulls

Butler sits out shootaround with soreness, continues to battle

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Butler sits out shootaround with soreness, continues to battle

Jimmy Butler’s return was billed as a team’s best player coming back to save the day, but clearly the Bulls’ All-Star guard isn’t right physically as he recovers from his left knee strain.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg revealed after Monday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks that Butler didn’t participate in the morning shootaround with soreness.

“Jimmy is probably not telling you everything, but he is sore,” Hoiberg said. “He’s out there battling through pain. He didn’t participate this morning because of his body. He has overall soreness and stiffness in his back. Nothing wrong structurally but he just has some overall soreness.”

Butler tried to play it off later after reporters left his locker, but clearly he’s not right.

“My body’s fine, man,” said Butler to CSNChicago.com. “They told me to sit out shootaround. I gotta keep going man. It’s a tough stretch. Gotta keep my body going. If I’m out on the floor, I gotta help us win.”

Butler had a couple explosive plays and was active on defense but struggled through a five for 16 shooting performance, scoring 15 with nine rebounds and four assists in 35 minutes.

“Uhh, I’m alright,” said Butler with a wry smile when asked about his health after the game.\

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Butler’s high-water scoring mark was 24 points in his initial return game against the Houston Rockets on March 5, and he has struggled mightily with the 3-point shot. In the nine games since his return from seeing Dr. James Andrews about his knee, Butler has shot 3-18 from 3-point range (16.6 percent), and that’s including his 2-7 showing Monday, where he hit a corkscrew triple while Paul Millsap fouled him.

It was Butler who Hoiberg drew up the Bulls’ last good chance at tying the game, despite the percentages.

“It’s tough down the stretch when plays don’t go the way you want them to go,” Butler said. “Then you just gotta do things on the fly. We took good shots, some went in, some didn’t. That’s basketball for you.”

Hoiberg was perhaps vouching for Butler considering Butler’s play hasn’t been up to his standards and Butler’s pride is likely taking a big hit considering the high stakes.

“He’s out there continuing to battle and made that huge four-point play for us late,” Hoiberg said. “He is going to give us everything he has. We’ll see how he’s doing in the morning and hopefully get a good effort.”

When Butler was asked where his body is on an 100 percent scale, he stated the cold, hard truth from his perspective.

“Percentage don’t matter,” Butler said to CSNChicago.com “If I’m on the floor I gotta help us win.”

 

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

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USA TODAY

Bulls turn to Cam Payne as they take on Sixers

PHILADELPHIA -- The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.

Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.”

The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.

Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.

“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”

Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne.

He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.

“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”

After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.

The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.

“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”   

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

Hoiberg, Bulls already facing touch decisions on Opening Night

The Bulls’ starting point guard missing the team’s season opener is less than ideal, but that is the dilemma Fred Hoiberg and company are faced with.
 
Hoiberg made the announcement during shoot around that Kris Dunn would miss the first game of his third NBA season for personal reasons, but noted that his absence is “excused.” 
 
The Bulls will turn to Cameron Payne as they get set to play the Sixers in Philadelphia Thursday night. The 24-year-old guard out of Murray State will be tasked with running the offense against one of the better defensive teams in the league.
 
Because of injuries and the numbers game at guard, Payne hasn’t had a chance to show Bulls fans much since he came over from Oklahoma City in a trade that sent Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott to the Thunder.
 
“I feel like I can be way better,” Payne said when asked about the opportunity to show what he can do. “I know I didn’t make a lot of shots but it’s really not about that. It’s about getting my team involved and make sure everyone gets the ball in their spots to contribute.”
 
Payne showed flashes over the last 22 games of the 2017-18 season (14 starts), shooting 42 percent from three and averaging 4.6 assists per game in that stretch. The shooting stroke didn’t show up early in the preseason for Payne. 
 
He was better in the team’s final exhibition against Denver and has shown enough to Hoiberg to earn the starting nod. He’ll have his work cut out for him tonight.
 
“Obviously we’ve been working on different coverages based on having a full roster, but things like this happen,” Hoiberg said when asked what this does to his game prep. “It’s going to be electric in here. They’re going to come out and play extremely hard and extremely physical. That’s who they are and we have to be ready for that. It’s a little bit of shock and awe with (the Sixers). You have to weather that first storm and hopefully give ourselves a chance with great effort.”
 
After Payne, the Bulls will have Ryan Arcidiacono as the first point guard off the bench. They’ll also have the services of newcomer Tyler Ulis, who will be in uniform tonight. Hoiberg mentioned that he feels comfortable with Zach Lavine bringing the ball up as well. He also mentioned that Jabari Parker will have his hands on the ball an awful lot with the team’s second unit.
 
The season hasn’t even started yet and the Bulls are already missing several key players. After an impressive rookie season, Lauri Markkanen will start the season on the shelf with a high grade lateral elbow sprain. Denzel Valentine will also miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. The team may have Cristiano Felicio, also dealing with an ankle injury, depending on his pregame workout goes.
 
“It’s not ideal but it is what it is,” Hoiberg said. “It happens at this level. You just have to go out and do the best job you can. It’s an opportunity for our guys to step up with two of our better players out of the lineup – really three with Denzel as a guy that can make plays in that second unit.”