Bulls: Tables turn for Jimmy Butler in restricted free agency


Bulls: Tables turn for Jimmy Butler in restricted free agency

Rubber, meet road.

While Bulls general manager Gar Forman intimated the Jimmy Butler situation would be resolved sooner rather than later at the announcement following the selection of first-round draft pick Bobby Portis, actions still had to follow from both sides.

The Bulls fired the first salvo, so to speak, in extending a qualifying offer and maximum qualifying offer to their restricted free agent. A maximum qualifying offer essentially limits Butler’s options as far as seeking an offer sheet from a prospective suitor, as the Collective Bargaining Agreement prevents a team from offering anything less than a three-year contract (which the Bulls will assuredly match) but it can’t contain any early termination options.

The Bulls don’t believe Butler wants out of Chicago like the rumor mill has suggested in recent weeks, but extending the maximum qualifying offer certainly gives the impression they were at least concerned about the possibility.

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In this era of the CBA, that mechanism hasn’t been used, and rarely has a player of Butler’s caliber actually signed the initial qualifying offer—which on par, causes a player to lose money that will be hard to recoup with a very limited time to maximize earnings’ potential.

Detroit’s Greg Monroe rolled the dice on it last summer, turning down a deal in excess of $50 million when the Pistons wouldn’t trade him, choosing to sign a qualifying offer that would grant him unrestricted free agency while playing for just $5.4 million.

Monroe was dealing with a different set of circumstances than Butler, choosing not to take a chance on a new coach and new regime in Stan Van Gundy after years of losing and frustration.

Butler will have a new coach this season in Fred Hoiberg, but that could save his body from leading the league in minutes as he did under Tom Thibodeau, and he knows the Bulls’ brain trust very well.

Add to it, the Bulls have made the playoffs every year and seemingly have been on the doorstep of conference supremacy, as Butler has progressed and developed every year since entering the league in 2011.

Perhaps it’s as simple as Butler wanting to hear how much other teams want him. After all, he wasn’t heavily recruited coming out of high school, having to enroll at junior college before going to Marquette, where he had to fight to become the last pick of the first round.

Heck, his contract negotiations before the season with the Bulls were contentious enough, as the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement—one that if the Bulls signed him to would be an outright bargain for the next four seasons.

So now, Butler finally has a say—somewhat.

He bet on himself to become a bonafide All-Star this season, heard “MVP” chants during fourth quarters of playoff games and now doesn’t have to beg for what he believes he’s rightly earned.

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Butler can take meetings with other franchises, although the current setup makes it hard for even the most interested team to come forward because of how impossible it is to obtain his services now. But he can sit back and listen to how coveted he is, how he’d be featured as a star should the opportunity present itself and for the first time in a very long time, Butler doesn’t have to fight.

He can weigh his options, and take the five-year, $90 million deal that has the potential to set his family up for life—or accept a shorter contract in order to catch the huge windfall that will hit the salary cap due to the new TV contracts in the next couple of years.

Whether he wants to get out of Chicago is immaterial at this point, which will only be displayed if he takes the one-year qualifying offer of around $4.4 million just to be free next summer.

What matters is Butler will be in a Bulls uniform next year playing for Hoiberg, being able to deal with the outcome of a situation he dictated—to a degree.

He won’t be begging or wondering, he will have seen all of his desirable options laid in front of him, being treated like the prize instead of the afterthought.

For once, everyone will be marching to his beat—which could be enough.

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

Would Wendell Carter Jr. be picked higher if the NBA Draft was today?

According to Bleacher Report, Wendell Carter Jr. would be taken fourth overall by the Memphis Grizzlies if the NBA were to redraft this year’s class based off of Summer League performances.

It may sound like a crazy concept (and it is), but Carter Jr. averaged the second most points, 14.6, through five July games in Las Vegas. He also averaged 9.4 rebounds and shot 55 percent from the field while averaging 28.8 minutes in his glamorous first-stint with Chicago. Those numbers are even more striking if you consider Carter Jr.’s 42.9 percent shooting from behind the three-point line.

Carter Jr., the real seventh overall pick of this year’s NBA Draft, looked like the all-around player the Bulls were hoping to get this offseason. He made his blocking abilities as a center known from the moment he stepped on the court in Summer League.

In their re-draft, Bleacher Report had Chicago using the No. 7 pick on the New York Knicks’ Mitchell Robinson, who was actually taken 36th overall in last month’s Draft.

Robinson, a center, averaged 13 points and 24.8 minutes per game over five Summer League contests. He was the best rebounder on his team with an average of 10.2 in the five games that the Knicks played.

The 20-year-old took the second most shots on the Knicks and had the highest field goal percentage at 67 percent, but Robinson did not have any three-point attempts.  What made his recent production seem even more surprising was the fact that the 7'1'' big man did not play a single minute of college basketball.

But would Robinson fit in the Bulls’ system?

Chicago has taken on an offense-first mentality, so Robinson would not be as great of a fit in the Bulls lineup as Carter Jr., but he would still be an impact player. He can be compared to the Bulls’ current center Robin Lopez, who averaged a similar amount of points per game (11.8 points in 26.4 minutes) last season as Robinson’s Summer League average (13 points in 24.8 minutes). And like Lopez, Robinson will likely be most effective around the basket and in the pick-and-roll.

Robinson would also have to learn the defensive concepts that a veteran like Lopez has mastered over his 10-year career.

Next season, the Bulls will have an exciting scoring trio of Jabari Parker, Lauri Markkanen and Carter Jr. in the frontcourt. And the fact that Carter Jr. is getting so much love in the national spotlight is yet another reason for Bulls fans to be excited about this upcoming season.

Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets


Jabari Parker channels his inner Uncle Drew: This game is about getting buckets

The Bulls gave Jabari Parker a two-year, $40 million deal for good reason.

One, the Bulls had the salary cap space to get the deal done and had just about filled out their roster. The money wasn't going to be used elsewhere. Also, the second year of the deal is a team option which gives the Bulls some security should Parker not be able to stay healthy or play up to the standards such a salary commands.

Parker was given that money for multiple reasons. One of those reasons was not for his defense.

But, according to Parker, no one gets paid for their defense.

Speaking on 670 The Score on Wednesday, Parker was asked about whether he felt he had the ability and effort to defend in the NBA, something he hasn't done particularly well in four seasons.

"I just stick to my strengths. Look at everybody in the league. They don’t pay players to play defense," Parker said. "There’s only two people historically that play defense. I’m not going to say I won’t, but to say that’s a weakness is like saying that’s everybody’s weakness. Because I’ve scored 30 and 20 on a lot of guys that say they play defense.

"If you know the game, you also know that everyone’s a pro, right? And you know that certain guys have an average. No matter what you do, they still get that average. They pay people to score the ball, and I would hope that somebody scores the ball on me if they pay them that much. So, I’m not saying that to cop out or nothing. It’s the NBA. We’re professionals. Everybody scores. It’s just about limiting them as much as you can, trying to contain them."

Parker's right in one sense, that players are usually paid for their offensive output. There are also more tangible, easily read statistics on the offensive end than there are defensively. Heck, the Bulls gave $80 million to Zach LaVine and he was the team's worst defender last season.

But then again, defense matters. A whole lot, especially at a time when offenses are better than ever (thus making defenders more valuable). The final four teams in last year's playoffs were ranked 1st, 6th, 9th and LeBron James (29th) in defensive efficiency.

A day after Parker's comments the Celtics gave Marcus Smart a four-year, $52 million contract. He's a career 37 percent shooter and has made 29 percenet of his 3-pointers in four seasons.

So while Parker, a below-average defender, might not be entirely accurate, at least he's owning who he is. And if he scores like he did in Year 3, averaging 20 points before re-tearing his ACL, no one will care how he defends.