Bulls' Jimmy Butler targeting return from heel injury Friday vs. Suns

Dwyane Wade stayed at the team hotel with his illness and met the Bulls at the airport Thursday after they scrimmaged at the Warriors' practice facility.Paul Zipser sat out with left ankle tendinitis. So did Isaiah Canaan, who sprained his big left toe in...

Bulls' Jimmy Butler targeting return from heel injury Friday vs. Suns

Dwyane Wade stayed at the team hotel with his illness and met the Bulls at the airport Thursday after they scrimmaged at the Warriors' practice facility.

Paul Zipser sat out with left ankle tendinitis. So did Isaiah Canaan, who sprained his big left toe in rare action Wednesday.

But the biggest takeaway from what sounded like a spirited scrimmage is that Jimmy Butler participated fully and, barring a setback, hopes to return Friday against the Suns after missing three games with a right heel contusion.

"I felt all right, still a little bit of pain. Now we just see how it feels when my body calms down. Get some ice, get some treatment," Butler said. "I was a little guarded. I don't want to do too much on one leg and mess something up on the other side of my body. But I was able to move pretty well. I'm in decent conditioning shape still. So hopefully I'll be ready to go."

Coach Fred Hoiberg said Butler looked "great." Butler said he is tired of missing games.

"Everything is so bundled up down there in the East that we have to win as many games as possible," he said. "I want to be healthy. But I know with me out there, I would hope that I make a lot of guys' job easier. And everything is back to normal, ball in my hands, everybody back to somewhat of the same role."

Photos of Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler.

Fire away: Hoiberg doesn't like to criticize players publicly. But he took avoidance of doing so to another level late Wednesday night when asked if Doug McDermott's defensive issues ultimately might cost him a rotation spot.

Hoiberg offered an 182-word answer in which he failed to mention McDermott once. Asked a follow-up question, Hoiberg again danced around the topic. He finally answered a third question on the subject and, on Thursday, tackled it head-on.

"(In practice Thursday), he missed his first couple of shots and really looked like he just guided the ball, which you have a tendency to do. It's human nature when you're struggling to try to get as close to that rim as possible," Hoiberg said. "After that, he made about eight in a row. He trusted his shot, finished his shot. Everybody's defense is a little better when you're making shots. Try to get him as many reps as possible so he can work his way through this."

On a night the Bulls were down Butler and Wade, McDermott failed to score in the first half and finished with six points on 2-for-6 shooting with three fouls. He repeatedly got beat defensively.

"I just have to keep shooting," McDermott said.

Teammate talk: Hoiberg and Charles Oakley played together on the 2001-02 Bulls, the year Tim Floyd resigned under pressure on Christmas Eve. Hoiberg said he only has seen "one quick clip" of the ugly incident between Oakley and Madison Square Garden security at Wednesday's Knicks game that led to Oakley's arrest and has swept through the league.

But Hoiberg did comment on Oakley, the teammate.

"Oak was a fun guy to play with, a guy who would always mix it up in practice," Hoiberg said. "Practices were very competitive because of the drive he had. He was brought in with that young group we had with Tyson (Chandler) and Eddy (Curry) to show what it took to be a pro and have some toughness and grit to you. Oakley is one of the best to play in that enforcer role. He's one of the tougher guys I've been around."

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