Jimmy Butler bet on himself in October by refusing contract extension proposals of the Chicago Bulls. Less than three months later, it’s already obvious that relative gamble will pay-off in a big way. In wake of Butler establishing himself as one of the league’s elite wings midway through the 2014-2015 season comes a report that the Bulls will offer the 25 year-old a max-level deal this summer.
The news is courtesy of the Chicago Tribune’s David Haugh. Of crucial note here is that the Bulls acknowledge that securing Butler will push them into luxury tax territory, a trade-off owner Jerry Reinsdorf has long avoided:
They fully expect to sign Butler to a max deal next July before another team even gets involved to tempt him with an offer sheet, which the CBA says they can after the moratorium ends. They accept that the size of Butler’s contract will put the Bulls in position to pay the luxury tax, something Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf says he will do for a championship contender his team is.
Chicago has approximately $63 million committed to nine players next season, including the player option of Kirk Hinrich and cap hit of the waived Rip Hamilton. Adding three minimum salary players to round out the roster before considering Butler’s deal would push the Bulls’ overall number to roughly $66 million, just below the cap and $15 million from the luxury tax threshold.
But Chicago, obviously, wants to retain Butler, and his outstanding play indeed warrants a max contract offer – from the Bulls or another team. Considering that his projected maximum salary for 2015-2016 comes in at over $16 million, it appears Reinsdorf is destined to pay the luxury tax barring some creative financial gymnastics that would deplete the team’s talented core.
But Butler is worth that sacrifice. He deserves a starting spot for the Eastern Conference in February’s All-Star game, making a huge offensive leap into a bonafide top option while maintaining his elite level of play on the other end. And considering the major strides he’s made this season, it’s even likely that the fourth-year pro will continue getting better as he plays out his second deal.
The Bulls are a legitimate championship contender this season, and Butler’s rapid growth is a major reason why. Locking him up for the long-haul will ensure they’ll remain so over the next few seasons, a seeming inevitability easily worth the nuisance of Reinsdorf finally further emptying his pockets.
What do you think?
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