Jimmy Butler was limping badly in the locker room again. Coming off a 46 minute performance in a game the Bulls were losing by 20+ points for virtually the entire night, 30+ for a good chunk of it as well. It was never close, the Bulls never had a chance, and yet here is Jimmy Butler trotted out to play 46 minutes with a bad wheel.
It's commendable that Butler wants to fight through the injuries. It's commendable that he wants to keep going. Where the **** is the common sense with the rest of the organization to put a stop to this?
I don't think it's a problem that Thibodeau plays a healthy player 40+ minutes over and over again. When healthy, the extra 5 minutes a night probably don't actually lead to a whole lot of problems. He should still pull guys out of games when it's near the end, and the lead is 20 points either direction, but with healthy guys I can't complain too much.
However, the Bulls need to stop treating players with injuries like it's a go/no go switch that is either on or off. They need to stop putting it in the players hands whether to play or not, especially with the character of the players on this team who will gladly sacrifice their long term health to grind out one more win.
Especially in this season for Pete's sake. Does Tom Thibodeau not get a minute limit from the training staff to apply? Does he complete ignore it? At what point are the Bulls going to stop putting this on the players and have the guys they actually pay to make medical decisions, you know, make them?
In this season, it's almost irrelevant. The Bulls aren't going anywhere anyway, and the nagging injuries will heal up over the summer. However, if Derrick Rose was healthy? We'd be pissing away the season again. Preparing to enter the playoffs in April as a banged up hot mess of injuries where no one's been healthy all year because of idiotic short term thinking.
If Thibodeau is ignoring the marching orders, then quite frankly, he needs to go. I love Tom as a coach, one of the best in the NBA, however, he will NEVER win a title as a coach if he enters ever playoffs with a roster that's given it all it has all year and has no health because he pushes guys out to 40+ minute performances while coming off injuries.
If Thibodeau isn't getting marching orders than the training staff needs to go. The Bulls clearly need someone to step in and set boundaries for a coach who has shown that he won't act with even the slightest amount of prudence without them.
In the end, something needs to change. It needs to change before it matters again. It needs to change before the Bulls really compete for the title again. Next season, we'll be sitting here in the off-season using the phrase "if healthy" a whole lot. While the Bulls can't control a fluke knee injury to Derrick Rose, they can take a lot of steps to ensure the rest of the health of the roster.
Those steps sure don't seem like they're being taken now. Not with Luol Deng who explicitly said he wasn't getting enough rest and kept trying to play through his achilles. Not with Jimmy Butler who's limping badly after every game and plays 40+ minutes in a game decided before halftime.
I don't know what it will take for the light to come on for Thibodeau, Swanson, or Tedeschi. I don't even know for sure where the biggest source of the problem is, but I Forman/Paxson have the power to step in and fix it. It looked like the hiring of Jen Swanson would help this summer, but so far, it's the same old situation at the UC.
Hopefully, the Bulls figure something out before next season, because if they don't, Rose's knee might hold up, but the roster sure won't.