The Chicago Bulls are expected to do all they can to keep Jimmy Butler as a restricted free agent this offseason and he is the main priority after having a career year, as he is expected to be a target for teams like the Lakers, Spurs and Knicks and this comes as the team may consider a trade with Taj Gibson over the summer, while Derrick Rose is hoping to stay healthy next season after dealing with injuries again.
The Bulls started the offseason with a big move already by bringing in Fred Hoiberg to take over for Tom Thibodeau and now the front office has decisions to make on players. The draft is coming up on Thursday and the next notable date after that is the start of free agency. The Bulls are in good position to keep Butler heading into the offseason, as he is a restricted free agent and that means they can match any offer he gets on the market.
Butler rejected a contract extension from the team last year and now he comes into the summer after having a career year. The priority and the plan for the Bulls is to keep Butler, but it may not be as simple as matching an offer if he gets one on the market. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, Butler may "resist" the mac contract extension offer from the Bulls in the hopes of signing a shorter team deal to take advantage of the upcoming salary cap increases in the next few years.
Butler can maximize his value by signing a short term deal now and becoming a free agent in one, two or three more years. Wojnarowski writes that Butler's "intrigue" in signing an offer sheet with the Lakers has "increased" and this could be part of his plan to get the contract he desires. If the Bulls resist going with a short term deal with high compensation, Butler could try and sign an offer sheet with another team to bring Chicago to the table to see if they blink.
Butler will become a restricted free agent after the Bulls extend him a $4,433,683 qualifying offer this offseason. Butler made a smart move by rejecting that extension from the Bulls, as he had the best season of his career and won the most improved player award. Butler averaged 20 points and 5.8 rebounds per game this season and he will be in demand on the market. Yahoo Sports reports Butler has the potential to sign a five-year, $190 million in 2017 if he signs a shorter term deal now.
The Bulls also could be active on the trade market this offseason, as the Chicago Tribune reports that Taj Gibson could be shopped this summer after the emergence of rookie Nikola Mirotic. The team already has Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah in the front court and Gibson is making over $8 million in each of the next two seasons. Like Carlos Boozer, Gibson may not fit his role based on his salary anymore, but a deal could be hampered by the fact that Gibson will be out for four months after undergoing ankle surgery. Rose said after the season that he was happy to make it through the playoffs without any major injury.