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Jimmy Butler aims to return as soon as possible

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By Sam Smith | 3.03.2015 | 11:59 a.m. CT

So whom did the Bulls upset?

“What can we say?” shrugged Jimmy Butler Tuesday morning as the Bulls prepared to play the Washington Wizards. “It happens. Three years (in a row injuries for the team), two years, whatever it may be, there’s not too much we can really do about it. Injuries happen. We’re athletes, we push our bodies to the limit each and every year. Unfortunately they do happen; we just have to deal with it. I think we have enough guys on this team and the group of guys we have, they’re all supportive. Nobody gets mad at anybody because they’re hurt, because they know it happens.

“We’ve been nicked up all year, but we find a way to win games,” said Butler. “I think everybody knows that. Thibs (coach Tom Thibodeau) is always preaching next man up, so I know Tony (Snell) and Doug (McDermott) and E’Twaun (Moore) will do a great job.’’

And so continues the incredible run of luck, mostly bad for the Bulls with Derrick Rose’s major knee surgeries, Joakim Noah’s own knee surgery last summer and now Rose out with a third knee surgery, albeit minor, Taj Gibson out with a sprained ankle and now Butler three to six weeks with an elbow injury. Butler addressed reporters Tuesday morning for the first time since his injury Sunday and could give no specific timetable about his return.

It is expected that Rose and Butler will come back about the same time in early April. Gibson probably will be out a week or two, though the Bulls have offered no estimates or confirmation.

It’s a difficult time to face a new rival, the Wizards whom the Bulls lost to in last year’s playoffs and trail 2-1 in the season series. It’s possible the Bulls and Wizards meet again to open the playoffs the way the season has progressed. Thibodeau said obviously with now Butler out along with Rose there will be another starting lineup change. Aaron Brooks has started for Rose. But with speedy John Wall for Washington, perhaps the Bulls start Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell. Thibodeau said, as usual, he remains uncertain about the starters.

As for the team, it’s deja vu all over again with the rash of not so much rashes but injuries that continue to haunt the team.

“Obviously you want luck, you want a lot of things to go your way,” noted Thibodeau. “There are times where things do go your way; the measure of a man is what do you do when it is not going your way. As I said yesterday, no one is going to feel sorry for us. It’s up to us to make good. You don’t get here by accident. If you’re here you’re a great player. Understand what your job is, go out there and do your job and give our team a chance to win and that’s all we can ask our guys to do. Put everything you have into it and just try to find a way to win.

“You have to grow,” added Thibodeau. “We’ve seen it in the past. Often times, when you look at how guys have gotten into rotations it’s usually someone goes down, they take advantage of their opportunity. It means they have been working hard and they are ready. Then someone who is in a role, that role may grow now. So we may find out more that way. Jimmy is a perfect example of that. Each year he’s grown more and more. Joakim and Taj last year when Derrick went out they went to a different level. Joakim’s playing much better; I think Pau has had an incredible year. We have some very talented guys.

“Things change quickly and just because they change that way doesn’t mean they can’t change the other way,” said Thibodeau about perhaps some good luck ahead for the Bulls. “So things haven’t gone our way for a couple of years; well now maybe they do. That’s all you can do. Whatever your circumstances are you try to make the best of those circumstances. Don’t make any excuses; just get out there and get it done.”

As for Butler, he goes back to trying to get back.

“I’m doing alright,” he said. “I’m just doing my best to hurry back, being careful, of course. I’m not going to say I’m happy. My ligament just has to heal and I’ve got to be able to move my left arm like I can move my right before I can get out there and do anything.

“I think this is a good time to get everything right that was nagging,” said Butler of the silver lining angle. “And then whenever it is that my elbow is back, hopefully my body is back up to par also. I think we’re (with Rose) both going to be back as soon as possible. But I think we both have to be smart about it. I’m not going to say that we’re going to come back on the same day because I don’t know, but I definitely think we both want to make it back before the end of the season. It was devastating for me. I hate missing games. I want to be out there with my team. Injuries happen, so I’ve got to get back as soon as possible.’’