Drenched in sweat as opposed to being in a sweat suit, Jimmy Butler went through Thursday’s practice after missing three games with a right heel contusion — a long and spirited practice that went longer than the usual hourlong sessions they often have.
Still listed as questionable for Friday’s game against the Phoenix Suns, it was likely he wouldn’t have been able to help much in the trashing laid down by the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night.
He still isn’t supremely confident in his ability to plant and cut just yet, but he’s feeling better than before.
“A little guarded but that’s okay,” Butler said following the team’s practice at the Warriors’ practice facility in Oakland. “I don’t want to do too much on one leg over the other. Hopefully, I’ll respond. I was able to move pretty well out there. I think I’m in pretty decent conditioning shape, still.”
Going on the exercise bike the past few days, Butler’s on the mend while seemingly the rest of the roster is on the M*A*S*H unit, with Dwyane Wade battling the illness that caught Butler and others a couple weeks ago, along with Paul Zipser and Isaiah Canaan sustaining injuries against the Warriors.
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“He looked great today,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “As the practice went on, he loosened up more and more. It was good to see him back on the floor with guys. A very energetic practice, a lot of that had to do with Jimmy.”
All, including Butler, are officially listed as questionable on the Bulls’ injury report. Butler has to battle the balance between going out there because the Bulls need him and taking care of himself and his health as he goes into the All-Star break.
The last time Butler had a right heel contusion, he didn’t play as well for a handful of games but still played heavy minutes in the first month of last season.
This time, he’s altering his approach ever-so-slightly.
“You gotta be careful,” Butler said. “I hope I’m ready to go, I’m tired of missing games. I wanna go out there and compete.”
While the Bulls have generally played well in his absence, they’ve still missed his playmaking and defense on top perimeter guys, notably their loss to Houston last Friday when James Harden ran wild for 40-plus.
He hopes his presence would make the game easier for those thrust into roles they aren’t quite ready for.
“I wanna be out there. I would hope I would make a lot of guys’ jobs easier,” Butler said. “Then everything’s back to normal. Ball in my hands, everybody back to somewhat of the same role.”