Knee strain to keep Jimmy Butler out against Hornets

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Chicago Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler will not play Monday night against the Charlotte Hornets as he continues to recover from a left knee strain.

Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg remains unsure of exactly when Butler will be able to be back on the floor, but said it was doubtful Butler would play against the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, the Bulls' last game before the All-Star break.

"Jimmy is receiving treatment back home," Hoiberg said after Monday's shootaround. "He feels better. We still don't have a timeframe on everything, but the important thing is he's feeling a lot better than he was a couple of days ago. He still has a lot of soreness in there. I would doubt he would play Wednesday, but then we'll kind of make a determination from there."

Butler, who missed his first games of the season last week because of left knee tendinitis, suffered the knee strain in the second quarter of Friday's loss against the Denver Nuggets. A subsequent MRI on Saturday confirmed the strain, but the Bulls wanted Butler to be re-evaluated in Chicago before making a timetable clear. When asked why a timetable hasn't been set yet, Hoiberg demurred.

"Good question," he said. "It's what it is right now. It's an injury that a lot of it is based on how he recovers and the important thing is he's making progress. We'll continue to get him treatment and if he can continue to make progress a lot of this will be based on how he feels."

Hoiberg said that surgery has been ruled out at this point and the Bulls remain hopeful that Butler's injury is not long term.

"We hope not, we hope not," Hoiberg said. "He's still got a lot of stiffness in it. It was an injury that had a lot of pain associated with that. It's just about hopefully continuing to improve every day understanding that there's going to be a lot of soreness involved with this particular injury."

The Bulls are also playing without Nikola Mirotic as he recovers from an appendectomy and a hematoma removal, but Hoiberg says the young big man is feeling better.

"Niko's feeling a lot better," Hoiberg said. "As far as a timeline, again that's based on how he's feeling. He's starting to eat again which is good. He still hasn't done much physical activity, it's going to be about getting him back in shape. Which when you're really on a liquid diet for five days, it's about building the strength back up. That's what it's going to be about for Niko and hopefully that will start soon."