Bulls’ Butler battling through shooting slump

Jimmy Butler has been in a miserable shooting slump this month. During the first 13 games in January, Butler was shooting 31.3 percent overall and just 9-for-53 (17 percent) from 3-point range.

His shot showed signs of life in Monday’s loss to Minnesota. He scored 16 points, his second-highest total of the month, while hitting 5 of 12 shots from the field.

Before the game, coach Tom Thibodeau was asked if Butler’s lingering turf-toe injury on his right foot could help explain the poor shooting.

“I don’t know if you can put it on that,” Thibodeau said. “He’s had a number of different things creep up, and that’s something he has not had in the past.”

Butler missed three preseason games with a knee bruise, then suffered the turf toe nine games into the regular season. So Thibodeau thinks it could just be a matter of Butler needing time to catch a rhythm.

“He does so many other things. I think he needs some easy baskets to get going a little bit,” Thibodeau added. “That’s something he’s always done well. He’s run the floor, moves well without the ball, active on the glass, things like that.

“I’ve seen the best, Ray Allen, have a tough stretch. He’d come in and shoot jumper after jumper. All players go through it. It’s part of the NBA. You’ve got to get through it. You’ve got to do other things that can help and get yourself going that way.”

Barkley says get ’Melo:TNT studio analyst Charles Barkley talked about the remote possibility of Carmelo Anthony joining the Bulls during an appearance on ESPN 1000-AM.#147;I think Coach Thibs would be great for Carmelo,#148; Barkley said. #147;I think he would make Carmelo a better player, more (than) one-dimensional, because I think the Bulls play as hard as any team in the NBA. Thibs is great defensively. I think Thibs would do wonders for Carmelo.#148;In order for the Bulls to land Anthony from New York next summer, they#146;d need to either engineer a sign-and-trade or dump Taj Gibson#146;s salary to clear more cap space.#147;I have no problem with the (Luol) Deng trade because they are not going to sign him for big money going forward,#148; Barkley added. #147;I thought that was a great trade for the Bulls.#147;I think they are in a very awkward situation. If they don#146;t do something dramatic like bring in a Carmelo, they are going to be irrelevant for the next few years.#148;Bull horns:Bulls trainer Fred Tedeschi was named the Joe O#146;Toole athletic trainer of the year by the NBA Trainers Association. #133; Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic left the game after six minutes with a sore right Achilles and didn#146;t return. Pekovic had averaged 22.5 points and 12 rebounds in the previous four games. #133; Nazr Mohammed played a season-high 23 minutes Monday, finishing with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

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