Report: Jimmy Butler could need surgery on knee

Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler clearly hasn’t been the same since injuring his knee in early February, and he might need offseason surgery to find out what is wrong, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Butler himself admitted surgery isn’t off the table right now but obviously hopes it doesn’t come to that.

“Maybe. I hope not,’’ Butler told the Sun-Times.

At the same time, he sees what we all see right now, which is that he isn’t anywhere near the same player he was before his injury.

“Is my knee the same as it was before the injury? No.

“But I want to play, man. And at times I feel like I’m hurting this team. That’s the most disappointing part because I’m not the player I was. I don’t know if there’s something really wrong in there, but it’s not really right, either. But I’ll be fine. I have to figure out a way to help us win playing with this. That’s all I’m worried about.’’

Just yesterday, Butler admitted he’s only hurting the Bulls if he continues to play the way he has of late.

Since being injured on Feb. 5, Butler’s statistical impact has significantly dropped off. He was leading the Bulls in scoring, averaging 22.4 points per game before then, and he’s down to 15.8 points per contest, hitting on just 39 percent of his shots from the field.

Perhaps of greater concern is Butler’s ineffective defense at times. When healthy, he’s one of the league’s top perimeter defenders, but opposing guards are getting a leg up on him outside these days as his knee holds him back from cutting and exploding.

While Butler has been cleared by team doctors, he still can’t kick the feeling that something isn’t right with his knee, Cowley notes, but the guard admits that his issues could be in part due to mental fatigue.

“I think it’s getting over the mental right now,’’ Butler said of the knee. “It’s more mental. And usually I can get into the gym and get into it, but the way these games are coming on the schedule, you’ve got to rest your body. That’s the hardest part.”

The Bulls are currently a game-and-a-half outside of playoff contention as the No. 9 seed in the east. Injuries have ravaged this team throughout the 2015-16 campaign and continue to persist as a huge problem in the final month of play.