Bulls

Jimmy Butler's hopes for an 82-game season end with knee injury

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Jimmy Butler's hopes for an 82-game season end with knee injury

SACRAMENTO—The bet is over, the streak ends for Jimmy Butler.

Bumping knees late in Monday’s game in Salt Lake City resulted in Butler not being able to fulfill his bet with his trainer Travelle Gaines about playing all 82 games as he missed Wednesday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, being a late scratch with left knee tendinitis.

“A little disappointed but I gotta think big picture,” Butler said after the Bulls’ 107-102 win at Sleep Train Arena. “Gotta take care of my body. My trainer was here and he was like, look, you gotta do what’s right for your body. So I talked to the coaches and we thought it was the best idea if I sit this one out.”

Gaines was in attendance and Butler wouldn’t reveal what the bet entailed or its terms besides the stipulation he play all 82 games this season. But considering Butler already leads the league in minutes and only Charlotte’s Kemba Walker and Houston’s James Harden has played more 40-minute games so far this year, it seems likely more than anything Butler needed the rest as opposed to the left knee being a big concern.

Of course, anytime the word “knee” is associated with the Chicago Bulls, there will be some level of consternation but Butler isn’t panicking about it.

“We’ll see how it feels tomorrow. Wake up and get some treatment. Gotta get back out there,” said Butler, adding he doesn’t believe he’ll need an MRI.

[MORE: Shorthanded Bulls get past Kings on Moore's career night]

Butler saw some of the best ball movement of the season against the Kings, and considering the coaching staff was unsure of Butler’s status until about two hours before gametime, it didn’t leave them a lot of time to prepare as Tony Snell started in Butler’s place but E’Twaun Moore was the star of the evening with a career-high 24 points.

Butler gave his thoughts on the game after Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg addressed the media.

“How good you can play when the ball moves and we guard and rebound, take care of the ball for the most part,” Butler said. “I’m happy we got this win. I think this is a good stepping stone for us. We can’t have a good win, then go play terrible. We gotta get two in a row, three in a row.”

Gaines was in attendance for the game, and had to talk Butler into sitting out the game for the sake of the long-term with Butler and the team.

“It was (tough). It was,” Butler said. “I love this game, I love this team, I go to war with them every day. My teammates were like, be smart, and just being cautious.”

Bulls Talk Podcast: Guest Ricky O’Donnell on the future with Zach LaVine

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USA TODAY

Bulls Talk Podcast: Guest Ricky O’Donnell on the future with Zach LaVine

Kevin Anderson is joined by SB Nation's Ricky O'Donnell to talk Zach LaVine and the Bulls preseason.

0:55 - On Zach LaVine’s preseason and if he is the true star on this Bulls team

3:00 - What should we expect from LaVine this season?

4:45 - LaVine’s true ceiling is…

7:00 - Can LaVine be a top-3 scorer in the NBA?

9:15 - Concerns over Lauri Markkanen

12:40 - On the LaVine and Lauri 2-man game

15:50 - Ricky explains why he’s optimistic on the Bulls

17:25 - On Bulls depth and White vs. Dunn in rotation

21:15 - Expectations for Bulls win total this season

24:00 - Are Raptors likely to make the postseason?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Bulls Talk Podcast

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Zach LaVine is “tired of people talking sh*t about my defense” and working towards becoming an NBA All-Star

Zach LaVine is “tired of people talking sh*t about my defense” and working towards becoming an NBA All-Star

Zach LaVine is fed up with being underestimated and he’s going to do something about it. The Bulls guard has been having a strong pre-season so far but is looking to improve his skills as a two-way player.

“I’m just tired of people talking shit about my defense,” LaVine said. “I’ve always been a good on-ball defender. But there’s no reason I can be this good offensively and not be that on the defensive end.”

“I’m taking more pride in it,” he continued. “I’m pretty sure it’ll show. I’ll make sure of that.”

If you think LaVine sounds confident, he has good reason to be. Last season LaVine was one of only ten players to average at least 23 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, making him stand out as an elite player in the company of MVPs and All-Stars. LaVine’s personal triumphs, however, were overshadowed by the Bulls abysmal 22-60 record last season.

So far, this preseason LaVine has been looking better on defense, averaging 1.3 steals per game through three preseason games. Any improvements on defense will greatly help LaVine’s All-Star case.

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