MILWAUKEE -- Chicago Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler will make his return to the starting lineup Friday night against the Milwaukee Bucks in the same gym he used to play in while he was a student at Marquette University. Luol Deng will not play as he recovers from a sore Achilles.
Butler, who has missed the past 11 games because of turf toe, has recently been doing more in practice.
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau highlighted what benefits Butler's return brings to the Bulls.
"It's not only defensively. It's all areas. He makes us function well. I think it's his energy. Obviously, he's a terrific defender, but he's also very good offensively. He can run the floor, you can post him, he hits open shots, he makes plays, so he adds a lot to the team."
The Bulls have gone 2-9 since Butler went down, and he acknowledged that it has been tough not being able to be out there with his teammates.
"It definitely is," Butler said. "I'm not going to say I'm a reason that we'll win games, but I feel like I can help in some aspects. If that's defense, if that's scoring, I just want to be out there and see if I do make a difference."
Of Deng, who has missed the past three games, Thibodeau said, "He's feeling a lot better, but he's not quite there. We'll see [how he feels Saturday]. He's close."
On Friday morning, Deng arrived at the shootaround earlier than any of his teammates so he could work out with assistant coach Adrian Griffin.
In the good-news department, All-Star center Joakim Noah said he would play Friday. Noah returned Wednesday in a loss to the New York Knicks after missing Tuesday's game because of a knee contusion. Noah got his knee drained Tuesday and appears to be in much better spirits.