DEERFIELD, Ill. — The Bulls, down to nine healthy players in their last game, might get some reinforcements back in the lineup in the near future.
Luol Deng, who missed Saturday’s home loss to the Pistons with a sore left Achilles, wasn’t a full participant during practice Monday at the Berto Center. But Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau sounded relatively optimistic about the All-Star small forward’s chances of playing Tuesday night against Milwaukee at the United Center, the first game in a stretch of four in five nights.
“He’s improved. I don’t want to speculate. We’ll see where he is [Tuesday]. He says he feels a lot better,” Thibodeau said about Deng. “[Deng only did] the shooting part and that was it. He did some rehab stuff.”
Fellow starter Jimmy Butler, who’s been sidelined since Nov. 18 with a turf-toe injury, is also on the mend. Thibodeau indicated that the swingman could be back in the Bulls’ lineup this week.
“Jimmy is improved. Didn’t practice but did some shooting and is moving a lot better. Jimmy is probably at 75 to 80 percent right now,” the coach said. “[Butler has to] get some conditioning and see where he is the next day and the next.”
Veteran reserve point guard Mike James, coming off a sprained MCL suffered in pregame warm-ups prior to last Monday’s triple-overtime loss to the Pelicans, did practice, according to Thibodeau.