If it’s not one thing—or Bulls starter—it’s another.
Derrick Rose will make his return to the United Center in the Bulls preseason home opener Wednesday night and All-Star center Joakim Noah will make his season debut, but starting shooting guard Jimmy Butler will miss the matchup with the Central Division rival Detroit Pistons.
Butler banged his left knee into Washington Wizards point guard John Wall during the first half of the Bulls’ victory Saturday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but played through the pain. Despite a limp, the athletic swingman made an athletic drive and dunk immediately after suffering the injury, but upon the team’s return to Chicago, it’s apparently been troubling him, causing him to miss Tuesday’s practice at the Berto Center.
“I feel like a lot of adrenaline was involved and I just wanted to finish out that game,” Butler explained before Wednesday’s game. “Then, after my body cooled down, it got back to throbbing.
“It’s just a bruised knee, nothing major. Just time and rest and it’ll get back to normal,” he continued. “[Butler plans to return] hopefully as soon as possible, as long as I keep doing everything that I’m supposed to be doing. Rehab and make sure that my body is right, and I’ll be back soon.”
Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, who described the injury as Butler having “bumped his tendinitis,” said the third-year wing’s status is “day-to-day,” a familiar, if unpleasant refrain for Bulls fans. On the bright side, veteran Mike Dunleavy Jr., the team’s top free-agent acquisition of the offseason, will play in his initial United Center appearance in a Bulls uniform, despite also missing a portion of Tuesday’s practice session.
Butler lamented the fact that the Bulls’ starting lineup wouldn’t be wholly intact for the team’s first exhibition game in Chicago, not to mention missing the first instance of his professional career where he’s missed a contest due to injury.
“I’ve never missed a game in my career—preseason, whatever you want to call it. I love going to war with these guys,” Butler said. “I can imagine how ‘No. 1’ [Rose] felt all last season.
“I feel like that’s why I’m not out there today, because I want to be able to bring all that I have to the floor,” he went on to say. “I can’t explode the way I’m capable of—I just want to give it my all each and every night, each and every day in practice.”
As disappointing as Butler’s absence is to fans, having a healthy Bulls team when it counts will probably make up for it in the long run.