The Chicago Bulls are heading into the offseason with Jimmy Butler as the main priority in free agency, as the guard will be a restricted free agent and could be in line for a max contract and this comes as the team could shop Taj Gibson in a trade, while Luol Deng could be an option to return if he opts out of his deal with the Heat.
The Bulls were defeated in the playoffs by the Cavaliers and that led the team to bring in Fred Hoiberg to take over after firing Tom Thibodeau. The Bulls have Derrick Rose coming into the offseason healthy and with the expected return of Jimmy Butler, the front office sees the team making a deep playoff run. Butler is the main priority for the Bulls and while he is a restricted free agent, keeping him may not be as simple as matching whatever offer he gets on the market.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports, the Bulls are planning to offer Butler a max contract at five years, but Butler may resist that to take a short term deal. Wojnarowski reports that Butler may want to maximize his value by signing a shorter deal and then getting a max deal later at over $100 million when the salary cap goes up. While that doesn't mean Butler will leave the Bulls, Wojnarowski writes that he "has preliminary plans to pursue meetings" with teams in free agency this summer.
The Miami Heat are awaiting what Luol Deng does with his $10 million player option and according to CBS Sports, the team is hoping that he uses it. Deng has not made a decision yet and if he opts out, there is a chance that the Bulls could look at bringing him back after the two sides parted ways last season. Deng averaged 14 points and 5.2 rebounds per game for the Heat last season. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls may consider a trade with Taj Gibson this offseason after the strong play of Pau Gasol and the emergence of Nikola Mirotic, as Gibson is making over $16 million combined the next two seasons.
Butler could be sizing up the Bulls to see how they handle the contract situation and it also could be a way to get the team to agree to his short term contract over a max deal that they may want to pursue. Wojnarowski reports that Butler's "intrigue" in signing an offer sheet with the Lakers has "increased" and he could meet with other teams on the market as well. the Lakers reportedly are considering giving Butler a contract offer and that would have to be matched by the Bulls.
Butler can sign a bigger deal in the future with the salary cap rising and all of this comes after he rejected a contract extension from Chicago last year. Butler has said that he wants to stay in Chicago, but there is a chance he could consider signing a deal with another team if the Bulls do not want to give him a lucrative short term deal. The team couldn't defeat LeBron James this year, but with Hoiberg coming in and other moves on the horizon, the font office expects an improvement next year.