Bulls say no structural damage to Butler's knee

by
Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls got a bit of encouraging news Monday amidst a sea of disappointment and confusion.

After Jimmy Butler had his left knee swell up on him, forcing him to sit out Monday's game against the Milwaukee Bucks despite his having returned from a knee sprain just two days earlier, he was evaluated by team doctors, who found no structural damage in the knee, according to ESPN's Nick Friedell.

The Bulls said earlier Monday that there was no timeline for his return. Head coach Fred Hoiberg says they'll see how he feels Tuesday before deciding how to proceed.

Butler played 34 minutes against the Houston Rockets on Saturday in his return from the injury, which had cost him 11 games. He seemed to show no ill effects - recording 24 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists with a game-high plus-28 rating - but experienced swelling in the knee after practice on Sunday. According to Hoiberg, he was also experiencing some back stiffness.

Butler is averaging 37.8 minutes per game, tied with Rockets shooting guard James Harden for the league lead, a year after averaging a league-leading 38.7.

The long-undermanned Bulls finally seemed to be getting healthy Saturday, with Butler and Nikola Mirotic - who'd been recovering from an appendectomy - returning at the same time. After Monday, they appear to be back where they started. On top of Butler's uncertain status, rookie forward Bobby Portis suffered a nasty eye injury in the third quarter against the Bucks, and did not return.