"Not good," he said earlier Friday of his chances to play. "But most likely it's also a back-to-back, I think my chances are bigger (Saturday against the Washington Wizards). But we'll see."
Deng, who was named to his second All-Star Game on Thursday along with teammate Joakim Noah, injured the hamstring on Jan. 16 against the Toronto Raptors but ended up playing almost 48 minutes and knocked down the game winner in overtime. He re-injured the hamstring against the Boston Celtics on Jan. 18 and has missed the past three games.
"It's all right," Deng said. "It's getting better. I think it's a week (since the injury) today. So hopefully I'll be back soon, but it's a lot better. ... It could be longer, I just hope it's not that long. I expect to be back soon."
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was noncommittal regarding Deng's status and said Deng did "some" during Friday morning's shootaround.
"He's getting better and better," Thibodeau said. "We'll see. I want to see where he is after he warms up tonight."
Jimmy Butler will get another start, and the second-year swingman has made the best of the opportunity. In three starts in place of Deng, Butler is averaging 15.3 points in 45.7 minutes a game.
And the stats show the Bulls have been better defensively with Butler on the floor. They are allowing just 90.3 points per 100 possessions and holding opponents to just 39.5 percent shooting with Butler on the court during the past three games, according to ESPN Stats & Information. When he's been off the court, the Bulls allow 103.6 points per 100 possessions and their opponents shoot 52.6 percent from the field.
"Jimmy's great," Deng said. "I'm just so happy that ... you never want to be hurt. But at the same time I think people will start seeing what he can do. And I think at the same time it makes us better in the long run."