DENVER – Jimmy Butler doesn’t want to get caught up in coach comparisons.
Especially when it comes down to talking about former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau compared to first-year coach Fred Hoiberg in the minutes department.
Thibodeau played Butler an average of 38.7 minutes per game the last two years and was all but crucified for it. Not only nationally, but even more unfairly, by his own front office.
Yet, Butler sits at 38.3 minutes per game this season.
Different coach, same workload. Only the narrative has changed.
“I don’t get into last year and this year, but I know I think both of the coaches really trust me to be out there on the floor a lot of the time and that’s respect for me,’’ Butler said. “I really like pride myself upon that. They can’t take me off the floor because they like what I bring whenever I’m out there.
“I’ve never complained about that, I’ve always wanted to play at the highest level at that. So why can’t I be out there for as many minutes as I am?’’
Butler wasn’t the only Bulls player with heavy minutes, either. Derrick Rose played 30 minutes a game last season – although often under restrictions – and entered this weekend playing 32.2 minutes per game.
The way Butler sees the entire minutes debate is star players should welcome the workload.
“Your body is going to be worn down if you play,’’ Butler said. “It’s hard with as many minutes as I’ve played, but that’s what the offseason is for is to break your body down so you can handle it whenever you’re tired.
“I love this group of guys. I love this game and the city of Chicago, so anytime I can play I want to play. I don’t ever want to sit out. I don’t ever want to be limited on how much or how hard I can go.’’
Mike Dunleavy’s long-awaited season debut will likely take place Saturday night in Minnesota, as he’s been sidelined since the start of training camp following back surgery.
While the veteran forward wasn’t sure what type of minutes restriction he was going to be dealing with or what he could give the team, his hope was that he could at least help be a factor in more wins.
“I mean, look, I’m gonna do things that hopefully contribute to winning, things I’ve done my whole career,’’ Dunleavy said. “What that is, it’s hard to pinpoint but just go out and do those things, play the game the right way, the way I know how to play it, and hopefully that ends up helping the team win games.’’