Once a team gets eliminated from the NBA playoffs, all hell breaks loose in the rumor mill.
Yesterday I wrote about the DeAndre Jordan/Chris Paul rumors, and I actually believe there’s something there. If I had to pick which uniform DJ will be wearing next season, I would take the Clippers over the field, but that doesn’t mean he won’t explore leaving. He should and he will.
The Bulls are in a similar situation according to a report from CBS Chicago, which suggests Derrick Rose “shriveled” in the series finale vs. the Cavs because Jimmy Butler was demanding the ball. When you score 73 points on your home floor to end your postseason, I guess someone has to come up with some sort of reason, but this one clearly has nothing behind it.
The Bulls got whooped and this is an excuse.
It’s also likely information being leaked because other teams have so much interest in Butler (and know they have slim odds of landing him). The bottom line is that Butler bet on himself in 2014-15 and won.
Before the season began, he turned down a 4-year/$40 million contract extension from the Bulls. According to Stephen A. Smith, Butler wanted around $12.5 million per season. After scoring 20 PPG, making the All-Star team and winning Most Improved Player, Butler figures to be worth at least $15 million annually on the open market.
If Butler leaves Chicago, it’s because he’s presented with an opportunity that he would’ve left for anyway … not because there’s any tension with Rose. If it looks like Rose “shriveled” after playing a great first quarter, that’s because he’s been inconsistent all season. He’s coming off his third knee surgery … remember?
Derrick Rose is never going to be the MVP caliber player that he once was, and that’s fine. But it’s also why he and Butler are such a great fit now. When Rose has his off-nights where his knees just aren’t there, he’s got a guy like Butler ready to go 40+ minutes, carry the scoring load on the perimeter, and defend the best opposing wing player. That’s a luxury, not a problem.
The Bulls have four stars that fit well together — Rose and Butler in the backcourt, and Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah up front. If they can fill out the small forward position with some consistency then they would really have a shot. But things aren’t as bad as they seem in Chicago.
Their problem this season was injuries (it’s been the same story since 2011). If they ever put together a completely healthy season, they’d probably have a really good shot at a title. The front office issue is the Bulls have to decide if that’s even realistic at this point.
But the most likely player of their core-four to play major minutes without getting hurt along the way is Jimmy Butler — who is also beloved in the locker room by his teammates. The Bulls aren’t parting ways with Butler this summer. Right now he’s their franchise player.
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