HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Chicago Bulls are on their way to San Antonio to face the Spurs on Thursday. But their season may hinge on a trip to Alabama.
That’s where Jimmy Butler is heading to visit Dr. James Andrews, looking for a second opinion on a left knee issue that has kept him out of 12 of the Bulls’ last 13 games.
Coach Fred Hoiberg said the swelling has subsided enough in Butler’s knee for him to get a workout in late Tuesday and also get up some shots during Wednesday’s light practice. But there also is cause for concern given pain is lingering and Butler didn’t respond well to playing one game after missing the previous 11 to an injury originally suffered on Feb. 5 in Denver.
“He’s just got a little bit of pain on the back of that knee and we just want to be safe with it,” Hoiberg said.
Butler wasn’t made available to reporters. Hoiberg said it was Butler’s idea to seek the second opinion.
“Everybody agrees that it’s a good idea to go down there and just get an opinion from one of the top doctors in the world,” Hoiberg said.
The Bulls said the latest exam from their own team physician, Brian Cole, revealed nothing structurally wrong with the knee.
The Bulls are 5-8 without Butler this season and have been outscored by 3.8 points per 100 possessions (the mark of a bottom-five team) with him off the floor. E’Twaun Moore started in Butler’s place in Monday’s win vs. Milwaukee.
The Bulls are just a half game ahead of the Detroit Pistons for eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The two teams will meet for a final time in Chicago on April 2, with Detroit holding a 2-1 lead in the season series.