Bulls

Report: Butler could go after shorter deal as restricted free agent

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Report: Butler could go after shorter deal as restricted free agent

With the tricky process of restricted free agency looming, Bulls guard Jimmy Butler could pursue a short-term offer sheet from another franchise this summer as opposed to signing a maximum deal with the Bulls, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports.

The Bulls plan to offer Butler a maximum contract, hoping to lock him up with a five-year deal, but with the salary cap rising exponentially in the next couple seasons, Butler could have eyes on maximizing his earning potential by agreeing to a short-term offer sheet with another franchise, giving the Bulls a chance to match, thus giving him the freedom and flexibility to hit unrestricted free agency much sooner.

The difference over the long-term deal could be around $100 million, if Butler chooses this strategy. With restricted free agency, teams could be hesitant to tie their books up for three days (league rules) just to help Butler stay with the Bulls by signing him to an offer sheet they know the Bulls can and will match.

[SHOP BULLS: Get a Jimmy Butler jersey right here]

Usually players who enter restricted free agency are up against it because of the rules, but with the salary cap scheduled to rise next summer, players can threaten to sign the qualifying offer (one-year), in order to hit true free agency quicker — giving Butler slightly more leverage if he wants to meet somewhere in the middle by signing a three-year deal as opposed to a five-year or one-year contract.

It could give Butler the chance to assess the direction of the Bulls franchise, as they have made a coaching change with Fred Hoiberg, as well as Derrick Rose's contract being up in two years and Joakim Noah entering the last year of his deal next season.

Butler won the Most Improved Player of the Year this past season, achieving career-highs across the board with increased responsibility after turning down a deal from the Bulls before the season that would've netted him $10 million annually when, reportedly, he wanted $12 million annually over four years.

He bet on himself then, and it looks possible he'll do the same this coming summer.

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Talk Podcast: Getting to know the Bulls Outsiders team; bold predictions for this season

On this edition of the Bulls Talk podcast, the Bulls Outsiders team of Matt Peck, David Watson, and John Sabine join Kevin Anderson to talk about the series premier of ‘Bulls Outsiders’ Thursday night. Hear about how the show came together and what they are hoping to bring to the Bulls fanbase this season. They’ll also share their bold predictions for the season including two potential end-of-season award winners from this roster.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

Kris Dunn thinks Zach LaVine could be 'a good defender in this league'

We all know what Zach LaVine is capable of doing on the offensive side of things. But what about his defense?

It's no secret that LaVine has had his fair share of struggles on defense, but Kris Dunn thinks highly of his 23-year-old teammate and what his potential is at the other end.

"On the defensive end I just told him, 'You're as fast as me. You're more athletic than me. There's no way you shouldn't be a good defender in this league. You could be one of those guys who could be dynamic in the passing lanes because you're so athletic and fast.'" Dunn said of LaVine. "And personally, I like to score. If you get in a passing lane, that's a dunk for yourself and because you've got so much bounce that's when you get the crowd on their feet — maybe do a windmill, a 360, something.

"But I think he's been going a good job on the defensive end. It's not going to be easy. We all got to learn and I think we're all trying."

Improving his defense would obviously be a big step forward for LaVine (and the Bulls), and he knows it. 

“I think I had a lot better focus on the defensive end,” LaVine said when assessing his preseason. “I had some mistakes too, but I wanted to go out there and just really hone in on being more focused down there. I felt like I did OK with that. Still some areas I want to get better at, definitely off-the-ball I think I did a lot better than I had before.’’

LaVine and the Bulls travel to Philadelphia to face the 76ers on Thursday night in their season opener. You can watch Bulls Pre- and Postgame Live on NBC Sports Chicago before and after the game for highlights and analysis.