Bulls

Risk it to get the biscuit: Jimmy Butler knows Bulls need him now

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Risk it to get the biscuit: Jimmy Butler knows Bulls need him now

TORONTO, CA — Drenched in sweat after morning shootaround, Jimmy Butler was in good spirits on the practice floor of the Air Canada Centre, hours before the Bulls play the Toronto Raptors.

Butler will play, after his visit to Dr. James Andrews last week brought good news for his left knee, but his playing time will be monitored heavily upon his return to the lineup.

[Tonight on CSN, Live Extra: Shorthanded Bulls battle with Raptors]

He admitted the knee reacting after a one-game return brought about some concerns, which pre-empted the visit to Dr. Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.

“Yeah, of course. I was worried but not too worried because it didn’t hurt as bad as it did Feb. 5,” said Butler, referring to his initial injury in Denver. “Yeah I was nervous but I gotta get over it now. We got a couple games we gotta win, what 18 (games remaining)? We need all 18 of these.”

A 34-minute showing, such as the one against Houston 10 days ago, isn’t likely this time around, but Butler joked, “Gotta risk it to get the biscuit! Gotta risk it to get the biscuit,” when asked about the possibility of re-injury.

“No, no specific number,” said Butler when asked about a minute restriction. “They said they’ll be watching. I’ll be watching, too.”

Neither Butler nor Fred Hoiberg would say if there’s an exact number but there likely is one, a much lower one than the aforementioned 34. When asked how he felt, Butler said: “Good enough to play.”

“My job is to help us win,” Butler said. “I don’t know what situation you may call that. Go out there and do what it takes to win.”

The Bulls are 5-10 without Butler and 27-22 with him in the lineup, as Monday presents yet another game where the Bulls could drop below the .500 mark, and they’re already a full game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth seed.

With Mike Dunleavy (flu) and Derrick Rose (groin) appearing to be game-time decisions, along with Pau Gasol (knee) being back in Chicago for this two-game trip, the temptation is to lean on Butler more than usual.

But keeping Butler upright for the next 18 games is more important than winning one — a strategy that put the Bulls behind the eight-ball to begin with.

“We’re on the same page,” Hoiberg said. “We’re just about making sure we’re checking on him at all times and go out there and stick to the plan. There’s a plan in place, we’ll stick to the plan.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Bulls fans!]

Butler’s last visit to this building in a Bulls uniform brought on the best performance to that date in his career, dropping 42 in the second half on the Raptors in a comeback victory.

He didn’t want to revisit any of that talk, but said getting the Bulls to the playoffs is his objective for the last few weeks of the season.

"I gotta do whatever it takes to get my team win,” Butler said. “I let the coaches know that. I let Gar (Forman) and Pax (John Paxson) know that. If I’m stepping on the floor I’m giving my all as long as the team needs me.”

More importantly, a lot lies on Hoiberg to protect Butler from himself with so many guys out, even if Rose and Dunleavy decide to suit up.

“He’s gonna want to do that. But we gotta stick with what we’re doing,” Hoiberg said. “Obviously the plan has been modified from the first time he came back. It’s going out there and making sure Jimmy’s with us the rest of the way as opposed to getting too hungry this first game. He’s gonna want to play 48 minutes with what we have out of the lineup as well.”

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

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USA TODAY

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.