During the first quarter of Friday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls injured his ribs while falling to the ground on a reverse lay-up. It appeared Butler was upended while in the air and awkwardly landed on his side. He attempted to stay in the game, but after knocking down a three-pointer from the corner, he slumped to the ground and had to be lifted from the contest. Butler was diagnosed with a rib contusion, with x-rays to follow.
The Bulls just can’t seem to catch a break in the health department. As we all know, Derrick Rose is out for the season with a torn meniscus. Butler himself has battled ankle and toe issues this year, and has struggled mightily only shooting 38.4 percent from the field and 27.2 percent from three-point range. However, it seemed he was beginning to hit his stride of late by shooting 60.1 percent and averaging 14.0 points in the last three games. A potential loss of Butler could really magnify things for Chicago as they already traded away Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the corpse of Andrew Bynum. I’m not sure if John Paxson and company were expecting their team to continue winning and be a factor in the Eastern Conference after losing Deng, but they were mistaken as you can never get Tom Thibodeau to quit.
Tony Snell immediately took Butler’s place in the lineup and should receive heavy minutes if Butler has to miss time. Snell has already started 10 games this season, so the experience is there for him, but the problem is the lack of depth the Bulls will now have at the two and three. Look for Thibodeau to go small in the near future putting D.J. Augustin and Kirk Hinrich in the backcourt together for extended periods. Chicago will need Butler if they want do any kind of damage come spring, so let’s hope this latest blemish is only minor.