Jimmy Butler Out 3-4 Weeks With Elbow Sprain
The Chicago Bulls’ path to the NBA Finals just got a little more murky. While injured star point guard Derrick Rose said this week he planned on returning this season, the team was still dealt another huge blow with an elbow injury to Jimmy Butler. The star shooting guard injured his elbow on Sunday night, and while he won’t require surgery, will still miss the next 3-4 weeks.
Losing Rose was one thing. Rose had missed some games here or there during the season already and that was a storm the Bulls have been learning to brave for the past three years. With Butler and Pau Gasol still around to carry the offense, Chicago’s main concern was to get back to the basics on defense and wait until Rose could return.
Now Chicago will have to make it for the next month without arguably their two best players. Regardless of where you rank them, that’s the Bull’s top two players in their backcourt and likely a month before either returns.
It’s bad news for a team fighting for it’s life in the East’s Central division, as well as a top-four seed. With both Butler and Rose out, it’s not impossible to imagine the Bulls sliding down as far as the fifth seed. That won’t mark a certain end to their title hopes, as both Rose and Butler are still due back before the post-season begins, but they certainly won’t have ideal footing by that time.
For now, the Bulls can only continue to do what they’ve always done in the face of injury: take it one game at a time. These injuries thrust Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich into major roles and now will likely also have Mike Dunleavy, Tony Snell and Nikola Mirotic playing major minutes. It won’t lead to the Bulls missing the playoffs, but bit by bit a once legit title contender seems to be breaking down. It’s anyone’s guess if the Bulls will be able to get healthy at the right time and put the pieces back together again.
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