The Chicago Bulls are coming into the offseason with Jimmy Butler as the number one priority in free agency, as the guard is a restricted free agent this summer and the team will try and sign him to a max deal and this comes as the Bulls could consider a Taj Gibson trade over moving players like Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah or Nikola Mirotic to get a deal done.
The Bulls have Fred Hoiberg coming in as head coach and with Butler set to hit the market, the team is ready to what it can to keep him. Butler is a restricted free agent and that means the Bulls can match any offer for him once he gets a qualifying offer from the team. That offer is less than $5 million and once that happens Butler can start talking to other teams in free agency. According to Yahoo Sports, Butler may consider signing a short term deal over a max contract and is planning to take meetings with other teams as a free agent.
Butler rejected a contract extension earlier in the season from the Bulls and that was likely a smart move, as Butler is expected to get a substantial raise after the season he just had. Butler had a career year for the Bulls and Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Butler may "resist" the max contract offer that the Bulls are expected to give him. The report says that Butler may look at signing a shorter deal now, as that would allow him to sign a max contract later for substantially more money, as the salary cap is going to rise over the next few years.
Wojnarowski spoke with NBA sources and they reported that Butler has "has preliminary plans to pursue meetings" with teams this offseason and that he may opt for a deal around two or three years over the max contract at five years. By doing this, Butler would be maximizing his earnings and could end up signing a five year deal later on for over $100 million. LeBron James and other players have been looking to sign short term deals because of the cap increase coming up and Butler could be the next big name to do it.
Last season Butler averaged a career best 20 points and 5.8 rebounds with 3.3 assists per game and he won the most improved player award. The Bulls likely want to sign Butler to a max deal, but he may want an expensive short term contract and if Chicago resists, he could use the Lakers or another team to force their hand to match. The Bulls could consider making trades to help clear cap space to sign Butler and other players and the Chicago Tribune reports that Taj Gibson could be a name that comes up in trade talks.
There has been some media chatter about the Bulls potentially trading Derrick Rose, but that line of thinking seems ridiculous and should be treated as such for now. The Chicago Tribune writes that with the emergence of Nikola Mirotic and the strong play of Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol, Gibson is likely the odd man out of the Bulls trade. Gibson is making over $15 million in each of the next two seasons and he is in a situation like Carlos Boozer, as his salary is not justified for his current role. Gibson could be the one to get moved.