The hopes and dreams of Chicago Bulls fans seem to rise and set in the knees of Derrick Rose, but Jimmy Butler has become a very valuable player for a franchise that won 50 games this season. In fact, Butler led the Bulls in scoring with 20.0 points per game and has scored 56 points through Chicago’s first two playoff games against Milwaukee – both wins.
Butler, 25, is a restricted free agent after this season.
“The day that Jimmy Butler turned down a four-year, $44-million extension offer that the Bulls gave him in October, he sent me a text message and said, ‘I’m betting on myself’ – and that’s exactly what he’s done this season,” Yahoo! Sports NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He’s going to get a max offer sheet from somebody else. Someone will test the Bulls’ resolve if they don’t step up and go out and get a deal done with him early – because what he could do is go sign a short deal that gives him a player option after one year and then become an unrestricted free agent the following season. So it behooves the Bulls to go out and get ahead of this.
“But this is a two-player,” Wojnarowski continued. “This is a guy from a winning organization. There’s so many teams with space out there. And listen, he’s not going to play anywhere but Chicago next year. They cannot let him walk. Every team always says, ‘We’re going to match whatever somebody offers my restricted free agent,’ because you’re trying to scare people off. But this is a case where it’s true. He will get either a max deal or maybe he agrees to something just south of it from the Bulls before he gets out on the market.
“But his gamble paid off and he’s had a tremendous season. You talk about a self-made player, a guy with no scholarships out of high school, junior college player at Marquette, 30th pick in the first round – and has just willed himself into a really good NBA player.”
Yes, he has, Doug Gottlieb said, but come on. Butler is not a superstar. He’s a really good player. There’s nothing wrong with that, but a max contract? Really?
“Here’s the thing,” Wojnarowski began. “You don’t have to be a superstar to get a max deal in the NBA. That’s the reality of it. Last summer, we saw Chandler Parsons (get a max deal). We saw Gordon Hayward (get a max contract). Listen, I think Gordon Hayward’s a better player, and they had to match that offer sheet in Utah to keep him.”
Worth noting is that not all max contracts are created equally. If you haven’t played in the NBA for at least 10 years – and Butler hasn’t – you’re not going to get Kobe Bryant money.
“It’s $15, $16 million,” Wojnarowski said. “The veteran guys who are 10 years in the league and are in the $20-, $25-million max range, yeah, that sucks up the whole cap. But these younger max deals, that number isn’t so high. People have to sort of move past that term of ‘max (contract).’ Yes, it was originally put in for the elite superstar player, but listen, there’s 30 teams. Guys get overpaid relative to their talent – especially in restricted free agency, where you’re trying to convince the other team not to match the money.”