Jimmy Butler practices, questionable for Bulls-Suns

Jimmy Butler practices, questionable for Bulls-Suns

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.”

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr.: 'I'm the perfect fit for today's NBA game'

Michael Porter Jr. grabbed some attention when he remarked that he was "perfect fit for today's NBA game" during an appearance on The Will Cain Show.

The interview went a long way towards showing off the uber-confident nature of Porter, who has consistently talked about being the best player in his class throughout the draft process. Porter also remarked that he was "an immediate impact guy," and that he "doesn't want it to take long to be one of the best players in the NBA."

His hubris has been intruiging considering the mystery surrounding the prospect.

During the interview Porter added that he would be open to doing more workouts for NBA front offices ahead of Thursday's NBA Draft. The only workout he has completed so far was his pro day workout in Chicago, and multiple reports have cited that Porter did look good shooting, though he was in an isolated setting with no defenders.

The one thing Porter has not done much throughout the process is talk about his weaknesses, which is somewhat concerning seeing as he has much to improve on. The general consensus is that a healthy Porter can get buckets at will. But if he can improve his ball-handling, rebounding and passing skills, he will be much more than a go-to scorer. Tightening his ball-handling skills is likely the key, as the ability to grab the rebound and push in transition would be a huge boon for Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg's offense.

The biggest question when it comes to Porter on the Bulls is can he fit with Lauri Markkanen? Despite receiving many favorable Kevin Durant and Paul George comparisons leading up to the draft, there is a rising sentiment that his best position in the NBA may be the power forward spot. It is not yet known if he has the foot speed to stay in front of quicker wings in today's NBA. But at six-feet-ten-inches, it is easy to imagine him having a huge advantage against slower power forwards rather than wings. While Markkanen is not currently built to be a full-time center, playing him at the five with Porter at the four would present Hoiberg with a potentially devastating closing lineup.

Versatility is the name of the game in today's league, and Michael Porter Jr. may be the key to unlocking the full potential of Hoiberg's pace-and-space attack. 

Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls


Paul Zipser says he is unlikely to return to Bulls

Just two years after being drafted in the second round, Paul Zipser told German media that he doesn’t see the Bulls wanting him next season.

The Bulls have until mid-July to pick up Zipser's option.

"I would not be surprised if they no longer want me.” Zipser said in German and translated via Google Translate

“Actually, I'm pretty sure I will not play in Chicago soon.”

Last month, Zipser had surgery on his fractured left foot, in his native country of Germany, which grew speculation the Bulls wouldn’t pick up his player option for next season. Zipser said the surgery "went perfectly."

Zipser showed some flashes of potential in his rookie season, averaging 5.5 per game and 2.8 rebounds in 44 games. But this past season, he played more games, but injuries derailed him from improving his overall production. He finished with four points and 2.4 rebounds in 54 games, including 12 starts.

Zipser explained that things changed from his first year to his second year.

“They were very varied," Zipser said. "The first year was just going very well. I fought my way into the team from the beginning and showed how I can help the team. The Bulls just needed someone like me. That's why it worked so well. We benefited from each other - that's why we were successful.”

“That was very different. It was not right from the beginning, and I was already struggling with my injury. It was not quite clear what it is. If you have pain in your foot, you automatically go down a bit with intensity. You just do not want to hurt yourself and be completely out. It was then difficult for me to keep my head in the sport - I did not manage that well. Nevertheless, the injury should not be an excuse.”

Nothing is official yet, but it sounds like Zipser might not dress up in a Bulls uniform next year.