Bulls' Jimmy Butler to get second opinion on his injured left knee

CHICAGO -- Bulls All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler will travel to Alabama to meet with Dr. James Andrews on Thursday morning to get a second opinion on his injured left knee. Butler has been ruled out of Thursday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

"Jimmy, he felt pretty good this morning," coach Fred Hoiberg said after practice on Wednesday. "Came in [Tuesday] night, got a workout, participated this morning. He's going to go down and see Dr. Andrews down in Alabama today just to get a second opinion on the knee. [Thursday] he won't play, but we'll hopefully get some news tomorrow and then confer with everybody and put a plan together. ... I think everybody agrees that it's a good idea to go down there and get an opinion from one of the top doctors in the world."

Butler came back to the lineup in Saturday's win over the Houston Rockets after missing a month because of a left knee strain suffered in a Feb. 5 loss to the Denver Nuggets. Hoiberg was very pleased with the way Butler looked in Sunday's practice, but the knee started swelling after that and he was held out of Monday's win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Hoiberg noted that Butler has already had two MRIs on the injured knee in the past month, with another one likely coming during Butler's appointment with Andrews on Thursday.

"The swelling has gone down," Hoiberg said. "The swelling's pretty much gone now. He's got a little bit of pain on the back of that knee. We just want to be safe with it."

Butler played 34 minutes in the win over the Rockets before fouling out, including 21 of a possible 24 in the first half.

For the second day in a row, Hoiberg defended his decision to give the 26-year-old so many minutes in his first game back.

"Jimmy had two really good weeks of going 100 percent on that leg," Hoiberg said. "Had a really good practice the day before, got him out in the game situation, felt great during the game. We monitored him throughout that game on how he was feeling. [He] felt good the next morning, participated in practice and then it swelled up a little bit on him.

"So as far as the plan the first time around -- going hard for two weeks -- that was put into place and now obviously with a little bit of a setback, we'll send him down there and confer with everybody. With [team physician] Dr. [Brian] Cole, with Dr. Andrews, who I know are very close and see where things are."

Hoiberg acknowledged that part of the reason the appointment with Andrews was set up was for Butler's own peace of mind. He also said that it was Butler's decision to meet with the world-renowned doctor and that the Bulls' staff agreed with it.

The All-Star leads the league in minutes played alongside Rockets guard James Harden, averaging 37.8 minutes.

Hoiberg said that Bobby Portis went to an eye doctor on Wednesday to check on the rookie's swollen left eye. Hoiberg is hopeful Portis will play against the Spurs.

Veteran point guard Aaron Brooks is expected to play after leaving Monday's win because of right patellar tendinitis.