Butler's foot improving; return uncertain

DEERFIELD, Ill. -- Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler said Friday his turf toe was improving, but he was still unsure when he would be able to return to the lineup.

“I want to come back as soon as possible,” Butler said at the Berto Center on Friday. “I don’t know. It all depends on how my foot, my toe is going to take everything I’m doing, whether that’s shooting, lifting, pushing off it, whatever it may be.

“I know I can shoot. I can move a little bit. I can’t push off it as much or jump. But it’s a progress. I feel like it’s definitely getting better.”

Butler has missed the team’s last five games, last playing on Nov. 18. He is averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in nine games this season.

Butler said he was no longer wearing a walking boot and had felt fine without it. He did not participate in the team’s practice on Friday, but he took jump shots after practice.

“He says he’s feeling a lot better,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He hasn’t done anything on the court. He has to practice first. The swelling is down. He’s not close to 100 percent, but he’s much improved. We feel good about his improvement. We’ll see where he is tomorrow, the next few days.”

Thibodeau said Butler will travel to the team when the Bulls play the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road on Saturday. Butler remained in Chicago during the Bulls’ recent five-game road trip.

Butler was excited to be back around his teammates Friday.

“When I’m not there, I kind of feel like I’m not part of the team so to speak, not in bad way,” Butler said. “I just want to feel that emotion. Even if it’s being on the bench, that’s who I am. I love this game. I love this team. I just want to be around them as much as possible.”

Bulls rookie Tony Snell has started for Butler the last two games. Snell had a career-high 13 points, three assists and two steals against the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

“He’s very good in a lot of areas,” Thibodeau said of Snell. “He can shoot. He can pass. He can make plays. I still think he can do more. There’s obviously a lot of areas he can improve on. I think as he continues to go around the league and understands personnel better, which he has put a lot of time into studying, he’ll get more and more comfortable.”