The good news is that Jimmy Butler's injured elbow doesn't require surgery. But it's still another significant injury for this team, as Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Butler will be out 3-4 weeks. The Bulls official release has called it a 'Grade 2/3 ulnar ligament sprain and small bone impaction injury to the left elbow', and sets the high-end of the recovery timetable to 6 weeks.
The injury occurred early in the 3rd quarter of Sunday's loss to the Clippers, as Butler's arm was crunched by a Deandre Jordan screen.
It's a 'freak' injury that can happen at any time, I suppose, but worth mentioning (I deem it worthy, anyway) that Butler has led the NBA in minutes, and given his playing style it's no surprise that he's outpaced the entire league in distance traveled, too. He's already suffered (and depending on some reports, was still dealing with) a hyper-extended left thumb and a right shoulder sprain this season.
This is an even more critical blow to the immediate future of the Bulls than the Rose injury, as Butler had risen in his 'bet on himself' season to be a focal point offensively as well as maintaining his status as the team's best wing defender. Just recently it was written here that Butler should be seeing more ballhandling duties in Rose's absence.
And now the Bulls will be spending at least a few weeks with neither Rose nor Butler. Taj Gibson, though bizarelly called 'a fast healer' by Thibs (or, better said: called that by a bizarre Thibs?) on Sunday, is reportedly also likely missing a couple weeks as well with his 17th ankle sprain of the season.
This team was always constructed as an assumed injury risk given their players, coach, and the style they played. So while it's not entirely unexpected that they're falling like dominoes (even the purportedly-indestructible, Michael Jordan-invoking, Butler), it's a real crushing blow to have this all happen at once.
Since this is the Eastern Conference it means there's still time and standings to absorb even this many blows. Tony Snell is playing better and Doug McDermott, uh,has a cool nickname? Kidding, Doug probably still won't play. Which is something I wouldn't be too upset over (assuming E'Twaun Moore has bested him in practice) but Kirk Hinrich has still been getting 2-guard minutes even though Thibs has admitted Hinrich is playing hurt, too.
[Figures, Hinrich can't even fall down the well correctly anymore, getting just hurt enough to be terrible, but not to the point where he'd sit]
The Bulls do have an open roster spot to be filled by someone the front office has shaken the hand of before. But, to put it mildly, it should be a rough stretch instead of a ramping-up for the playoffs.