Fred Hoiberg: Jimmy Butler could return Saturday

by
Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports / Reuters

Things might finally be looking up for the Chicago Bulls' injury-plagued season.

Shooting guard Jimmy Butler is nearing a return to the court after missing almost a month with a knee injury, and there's a possibility of him playing Saturday, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg told reporters Tuesday.

Hoiberg said last Monday that Butler is still two-to-three weeks away from returning. Based on that timeline, he appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery.

Butler battled knee tendinitis at the start of January, but chose to play through it until the injury worsened on a drive to the hoop on Feb. 5. He left the court in a wheelchair before being diagnosed with a strained knee.

Without their best player in the lineup, the Bulls have predictably struggled. Including the game in which Butler suffered the injury, Chicago has lost seven of its last 10 games.

The 26-year-old's return should bring some badly-needed stability to the Bulls. Butler is averaging 22.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in a league-leading 37.9 minutes per game, and ranks as Chicago's best wing defender.

Chicago is tied with three other teams battling for the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.