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Jimmy Butler's Bruised Heel Is Structurally Fine, So He'll Play Through Pain

By Cody Westerlund--

(CBS) Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg expressed no reservations about wing Jimmy Butler continuing to play through a sore heel that's bothered him since he was banged up late in a Nov. 20 loss at Golden State, because it's nothing more than a bruise.

"The big thing is he's comfortable with it," Hoiberg said. "He's got a bruise on his heel. It's hard with heel pain, obviously the impact you have on that area. But there's nothing structurally wrong with it. So he's going to play through the pain."

Butler was limited in Tuesday's light practice, relegated primarily to getting shots up. His injury has been a mild source of debate recently, partially because he was cryptic initially about the ailment and because the Bulls were plagued by injuries big and small in recent years under former coach Tom Thibodeau, whom management thought wore down his players over the long haul.

After Monday's win against the Spurs, Butler made it clear he'll play through the pain. He's continued to carry a full minutes workload in the three games since he first hurt his heel.

"Play through it," Butler said Monday night of his plan. "I don't think anybody cares that I'm injured. Nobody feels sorry for me. So I got to play.

"My decision is my decision."

In the three full games since suffering the injury, Butler has averaged 10.7 field-goal attempts and 6.0 free-throw attempts. He's averaging 14.7 shots and 7.3 free throw attempts for the season, so perhaps he's been more conservative of late.

Hoiberg expressed no concern over Butler's offensive approach.

"Jimmy's going to make the play, whatever the defense gives him," Hoiberg said. "He's a very unselfish player."

Butler is averaging a team-high 20.3 points on 46 percent shooting. He's averaging 36.9 minutes, third-most in the NBA. He led the league with 38.7 minutes per game last season.

Elsewhere on the injury front, Bulls guard Aaron Brooks (hamstring) went through "most" of practice Tuesday, Hoiberg said. Brooks has missed the past four games and could miss Wednesday's home tilt with Denver as well.

"I'm not sure he'll be ready tomorrow," Hoiberg said.

Guard Kirk Hinrich (hip pointer) went at "half speed" in practice, Hoiberg said, and his availability is uncertain for Wednesday. He missed Monday's game.



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