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.
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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.