Chicago Bulls Rumors: Jimmy Butler Free Agent Target for NY Knicks, LA Lakers, Celtics, Spurs With Most Improved Player Award Likely?

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Apr 14, 2015 01:50 PM EDT
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Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls
Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls (L) shoots as Jordan Hill of the Los Angeles Lakers tries to block during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on January 29, 2015. The Lakers went on to win 123-116."

The Chicago Bulls have Jimmy Butler heading into restricted free agency this summer and teams like the NY Knicks, LA Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Miami Heat could be interested in signing him as a free agent to an offer sheet, as he is one of the favorites to win most improved player after helping the Bulls reach the playoffs again.

Butler has established himself as one of the best young players in the league this year and he stepped up with Derrick Rose ailing with knee issues this season. The additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic have also been huge for the Bulls, but without the paly of Butler, the team would not be second in the central division behind the Cavaliers. According to Pro Basketball Talk, the Bulls are likely to sign back Butler and will match "any offer" he gets, but there are teams that could try to price them out.

Butler is averaging a career best 20 points per game this season with nearly six rebounds and three assists and he has played in 64 games for the Bulls. His numbers across the board are career highs and that is why he will be a target for teams. According to Pro Basketball Talk, Butler declined a four-year, $40 million contract extension before the deadline earlier in the season and that sets him up for big money this summer.

The website later reported that the Bulls plan on offering a max contract to Butler and that they would "match any offer" to the guard. The Bulls are hoping that they don't need to match, as David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune reported that they want to sign Butler before he even gets the chance to hit the market in July. Klay Thompson got a four-year, $70 million contract from the Warriors and while Butler may not end up with that much money, he should get at least close to that amount.

The Knicks and Lakers are coming into the offseason with a ton of money to spend and if they miss out on players like Rajon Rondo or Goran Dragic, they could go after Butler. Marc Stein at ESPN.com wrote earlier in the season that the San Antonio Spurs could be a wild card for Butler. The team is likely to keep Kawhi Leonard in restricted free agency, but if Manu Ginobili and/or Tim Duncan retire, the Spurs could make a splash. Another report had Marc Gasol as a target if Duncan retired and that also could be an option for San Antonio.

The Boston Celtics could also be in the mix for Butler, as Pro Basketball Talk reports they plan on being aggressive in free agency this summer. The team plans on targeting Marc Gasol and/or Kevin Love if he hits the market and this comes after they traded Rondo this season. The Celtics, Lakers and Knicks are all marquee franchises and with the Celtics making the playoffs, they may be able to sell success a bit better than New York or Los Angeles right now. 

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