Chicago Bulls Rumors: Jimmy Butler Max Contract Free Agency Priority for Fred Hoiberg, Taj Gibson Trade Option Over Nikola Mirotic?

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Jun 04, 2015 11:39 AM EDT
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Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls goes up a shot over teammate Taj Gibson #22
Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls goes up a shot over teammate Taj Gibson #22 and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist #14 and Gerald Henderson #9 of the Charlotte Hornets at the United Center on March 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois."

The Chicago Bulls have hired Fred Hoiberg to replace the fired Tom Thibodeau and now the main priority is signing Jimmy Butler to a max contract in free agency once he becomes a restricted free agent and this comes as the team could consider a Taj Gibson trade in the offseason after the strong play from Pau Gasol and the emergence of Nikola Mirotic.

The Bulls were eliminated in the playoffs by the Cavaliers despite Cleveland now having Kevin Love and now they have Hoiberg coming in as head coach. The team announced the hiring this week and he is described as a different type of coach compared to what Thibodeau was. Hoiberg preached getting his main starters rest and that is something that Thibodeau did not do with his tough practices.

Derrick Rose is coming off of another knee surgery and while he looked good in the playoffs, the team cannot fully rely on him in the future. Butler won the most improved player award last season and he is not heading towards restricted free agency. The Bulls are expected to match any offer that Butler gets, according to the Chicago Tribune, and Butler is interested in staying with the Bulls. According to Marc Stein at ESPN.com, teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Celtics could be options for offer sheets to Butler.

Butler had a career season while averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and nearly two steals in 65 games and he helped carry the team while Rose was out. Butler is going to be a target for teams, but since he is an RFA, the Bulls have the chance to match offers. The team tried to sign Butler to a contract extension last year, but he smartly declined that offer and now he is poised to make a ton of money. Butler told USA Today that he is "happy to be her," referring to Chicago and that "this is a place for me."

According to the Chicago Tribune, Gibson could be a trade option for the Bulls this offseason as they try and sign Butler to a deal. Gibson came up in trade talks last season and he is making over $8 million in each of the next two years. With Gasol, Mirotic and Joakim Noah already in the front court, Gibson is a bit of an extra piece and he could be moved for more scoring or another guard. The Bulls need to add something after losing in the playoffs this year and Gibson could help them do that.

Thibodeau was fired despite having a very successful run with the Bulls, taking the team to the playoffs in each of the last batch of years and winning four series in the postseason. Thibodeau had to do it mostly without Derrick Rose fully healthy and he won an average of 51 games per season. The Bulls cited issues with the culture of the team and communication with the front office as reasons for the change and now the former Bulls player Hoiberg takes over after his run with Iowa State in college. Hoiberg has long been a target for the Bulls and his name has been connected to NBA jobs for the last couple years. 

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