Extension Candidate: Jimmy Butler

The Bulls scored a major coup when they drafted Jimmy Butler 30th overall in 2011. A team that compiled the best record in the league in the previous season, as the Bulls did, isn’t supposed to be able to find a starting-caliber player in the draft. That’s exactly what Chicago has, and then some, in Butler, who became a full-time starter just last season but had already established himself as a future building block the year before, when he started 20 regular season games and all 12 playoff games for an ailing Luol Deng. Now the task for GM Gar Forman and his staff is to keep that building block in place and ensure the embodiment of that draft-night success from three years ago doesn’t turn into either an overpaid burden for Chicago or, perhaps even worse, a former Bull.

A report from last autumn indicated that the Bulls were higher on retaining Butler for the long term than they were on Deng, and that was born out when the team traded Deng to the Cavs at midseason. Chicago isn’t alone in its affection for the 24-year-old Butler, as there was reportedly wide belief that the Wolves would ask for Butler as part of Kevin Love trade talks with the Bulls. Love appears safely on his way to the Cavs, but there’s little doubt that other teams would relish the chance to snatch Butler away.

Butler endured a tough shooting season on a Bulls team that struggled mightily to score once Derrick Rose went down with yet another injury. The subtraction of Deng didn’t help matters, either, allowing perimeter defenses to focus more keenly on stopping Butler, Chicago’s remaining wing threat. Butler’s three-point shooting percentage dropped from 38.1% in 2012/13 to 28.3% last year, even as he nearly tripled his number of attempted treys per contest. His shooting percentage from the floor as a whole dropped from 46.7% to 39.7%, reflective of his greater focus on three-pointers.

The Bulls asked Butler to do much more this past season than he’d ever done in the league, and his efficiency dropped as a result, with his PER sinking from 15.2 in his second season to 13.5 in year three. Still, it would have been difficult for just about any player to have been effective offensively on last year’s Bulls, one of just four teams in the league to score fewer than a point per possession in 2013/14, according to NBA.com. Butler isn’t capable of single-handedly carrying a scoring attack, at least not yet, but he’s defined himself as a key part of one of the most well-coordinated defenses in league history. The Bulls gave up 1.5 points fewer points per 100 possessions when Butler played, as NBA.com shows, and while Butler alone didn’t influence that statistic, Chicago has been at least slightly better defensively when he’s played in each of his three seasons with the club.

The Bulls were also more effective defensively with Taj Gibson on the floor in each of his first three seasons in the league, which was no doubt on the minds of Forman and company when they reached a deal with Gibson on a four-year, $33MM rookie scale extension two years ago. It stands as an example of the team’s willingness to lock up a player who’s a mainstay but not quite a star, a description that also fits Butler, but there are differences between the two cases. Gibson came off the bench at a position that the highly paid Carlos Boozer occupied, while Butler is a starter on the wing, where the Bulls are thin. Butler is also a more integral part of Chicago’s offense than Gibson had been when he signed his extension. Those factors combined with rising salary cap projections for years to come make it unlikely that Butler will settle for salaries anywhere in the neighborhood of what Gibson is making.

It appears as though Chicago would like to keep Butler around, as I surmised last month when I predicted that the Bulls and the Happy Walters client would come to terms on a four-year, $42MM extension. That’s $9MM more than Gibson saw, but there’d still be a decent chance that it would end up a relative bargain for the Bulls, particularly if the deal is backloaded. Chicago already has about $58.6MM in commitments for 2015/16 and $43.8MM for 2015/16, so creating enough wiggle room as possible beneath the tax threshold will be important as the team attempts to contend in the next few years.

There’s a case to be made that the Bulls should hold off on an extension to see whether Butler’s offensive efficiency improves with Rose back in the lineup. Butler and Rose have only shared the floor for 273 total minutes over their careers, so surely Chicago is curious to see how they mesh in more significant time together. That question mark shouldn’t dissuade the Bulls from committing to a reasonable extension this offseason, lest Butler’s negotiating power increase commensurate with his continually expanding role on the team. Restricted free agency proved more kind this year to Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons, a pair of wing players on the market’s second tier, than it has for point guard Eric Bledsoe and big man Greg Monroe, seemingly more attractive options. That would bode well for Butler, even though there are few certainties in restricted free agency, as this summer’s surprises have shown.

It’s quite a risk in today’s NBA for a team to commit an average of more than $10MM a year to a swingman who’s just a 30.9% three-point shooter, but for the Bulls, it appears worth it to do so with Butler. Chicago’s primary focus is on defense, anyway, where Butler has proven valuable, and Gibson’s blossoming offensive game is evidence that coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff are adept at continually developing players well into their careers. Butler needs to improve for the Bulls to have reaped a bargain with such an investment, but there’s plenty of evidence to suggest he’ll do just that.

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79 Comments on "Extension Candidate: Jimmy Butler"


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refgym
5 months 1 day ago

I am just praying we do not lost Jimmy Butler. I really do not think Jimmy and Derrick Rose get along. You can see in their body language. At the warriors game, Derrick would not sit next to Butler for some odd reason. I do not know folks, it looks like Butler is going somewhere else after this year. The Bulls are not going to change their nucleus, where everything revolves around number 1. Sorry Butler, it was fun having you and I wish you well.

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[…] negotiations around $7-8 million (maybe less?), but I see little chance Butler goes for that. Chuck Myron over at HoopsRumors speculated himself that a four-year, $42 million deal would get it done, and I think that would certainly be a fair […]

Guest

[…] negotiations around $7-8 million (maybe less?), but I see little chance Butler goes for that. Chuck Myron over at HoopsRumors speculated himself that a four-year, $42 million deal would get it done, and I think that would certainly be a fair […]

Guest

[…] negotiations around $7-8 million (maybe less?), but I see little chance Butler goes for that. Chuck Myron over at HoopsRumors speculated himself that a four-year, $42 million deal would get it done, and I think that would certainly be a fair […]

Guest

[…] negotiations around $7-8 million (maybe less?), but I see little chance Butler goes for that. Chuck Myron over at HoopsRumors speculated himself that a four-year, $42 million deal would get it done, and I think that would certainly be a fair […]

Guest

[…] negotiations around $7-8 million (maybe less?), but I see little chance Butler goes for that. Chuck Myron over at HoopsRumors speculated himself that a four-year, $42 million deal would get it done, and I think that would certainly be a fair […]

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Robert Felton
10 months 6 hours ago

13/5/4 pg, w/a 13.5 PER, is not bad #’s for a guy who had to play the oppositions best player exclusively every game. Became the focal point of defenses, with Deng, &, DR, gone. Helped anchor the defense,. Avgd. 39 &,44 mpg. in the reg.&, post seasons respectively. Hell the man was exhausted. Chandler parsons only avgd. 1 pts more &, got 15M per.This is a no brainer, there is no other 2 way wing that, better fits the bulls chemistry, young, has length, wants to be a bull, and will be a better bargain if they lock him up early, than Butler. Butler will play big w/ Rose back. My bold prediction is that he will have an allstar caliber year. Get it done before the inevitable happens &, they have to end in up in a major bidding war. No one else the get will be better that JB. Other teams know it & will, be trying to steal him. 42 for 4 is a good price for him. He’ll get that or more anywhere else he goes. He’s a rock.

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SIC
10 months 8 days ago

Butler is the best defensive wingman in the NBA. Who else has a shot in Hell at slowing down LeBron, Melo, PG24, et cetera back to back to back to back nights?

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Max Mars
9 months 27 days ago

I love Butler to death but Tony Allen gets things done. I just can’t put Butler above Allen yet.

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SIC
9 months 26 days ago

I don’t think so. Overall, yeah Allen is better. But I still think Butler is better defensively.

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Max Mars
9 months 26 days ago

well, overall he is actually worse. he’s small, he can’t shoot, not even if it will save his mama. butler is a big SG (Although he is CLEARLY a SF and i hope they put him back at 3) he’s uber athletic, he’s young and his shot is not that bad,.Don’t know.. I love Tony Allen’s toughness, i love how he plays. He energises the entire Grizzlies team. So for now, i have to actually agree, Tony is more valuable than butler. Let’s put it that way.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Tony Allen is a 2 only, Jimmy can play both !!! I agree with you about where Jimmy should be, the problem is he hasnt developed the long range offense to stay at the 3 spot !!! Each player brings to their team whats needed, in a way you could swap them and they would still thrive at the 2 spot only !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Jimmy can only defend 2. That’s only half of the game. I’ve been Jimmy’s biggest fan since he was drafted, especially when i heard his life story. I really really hope he busted his ass all summer long with that jumper cause it’s the only thing he needs NOW.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Thats not true Max, Jimmy is our best SF defender as of now !!! His struggles on offense I agree with everyone he has to improve. The amount of energy he used on defense last year took away from his offensive game !!! He’ll be much better this year with all the help !!!
# More Than Enough # Next Man Up

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Wait, you got it wrong. I meant Jimmy can only DEFEND 2, not only defend TWO. Meaning that he’s not a real shooting guard. He can defend vs shooting guards (and small forwards obviously, especially lebron and melo, oh melo) but he isn’t a shooting guard on offense. He just isn’t. He’s good in transition and drawing some fouls, that’s it. To address your previous message “If the Bulls want to have a bench that can’t defend then you start Tony & Jimmy at the 2 & 3 !!!” I specifically wrote “I’d play McBuckets and Snell at 2 and Dunleavy and Butler at 3. At least this way the starters defense and bench defense kinda sorta still works” Meaning you start Jimmy and McBuckets and have Snell (nice defender) come of the bench with Dunleavy (good team defense). But in principle, you’re right. We have SO MANY PLAYERS NOW. So many choices.. It’s one of those situations when you have so much you don’t know what to do with it. I actually believe the first games will be kinda hard because Thibs’ gotta see and think a lot about lineups. The good thing is that Noah can finally play 30 minutes a game and it will be enough. Isn’t it awesome? So many lineups.. So many ideas. If you have any, share it. I’d love to hear them and talk about it :)

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

So, Butler can only play 2 as a defender? Right?

And I have a possible lineup above.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

No. Butler can only *defend* playing 2. Almost zero offensive game. I’m sorry for not being clear enough on that :)

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

That’s what I said. He can only play the 2 as a defender, not on offense xD Just making sure man.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Right. BUT… I don’t think i’m the only one who though that after the injury he kinda lost the confidence. You know.. not many drives, and if you payed attention he was ALWAYS looking to pass the ball. Always. That was so annoying.. When Tony was getting the ball he instantly looking to attack. Some of his dunks were just too nasty. Love the attitude. So if butler is aggressive, who knows. And if the shot is falling, well, than it’s sweet.

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

That’s been a concern of mine. When he drove, he did it timidly and turned to the side. Always slow, never actually looking to attack.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

I gotcha ya, my fault !!! That would be ideal to be able to balance thoes spots with the 4 players offense and defense. My concern would be like you said, thibs wont likely start a Rookie !!! So, I see Mike & Jimmy starting !!! Mike might be expendable some time soon if Doug takes off and fly !!! The Doug & Jimmy combo could work against certain SF’s 2 guard lineups, but if your talking 2 athletic SG & SF then we would have a problem !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Like i said, i see Tony becoming a great defender. He’s athletic, super long arms, he put some muscles on (have you seen him lately on tv or interviews? those shoulders!!!) I don’t wanna make stupid comparisons but Jimmy and Tony might become a killer defender duo like Mike and Scottie. Ok, not LIKE Mike and Scottie, but you know what i mean. How would you distribute the minutes of the front court? Taj Pau Jo and Mirotic… Even without knowing how good will Mirotic be? My opinion is Noah and Pau start, then Noah sits, Taj moves to 5 for defense and Pau remains at 4 or Mirotic comes in and Pau sits, too. Of course Noah will have to close games together with Butler and possibly Taj.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

I’m in agreement with that kinda rotation with just a little tweek !!! I would give Jo an early 1st qtr break and bring in Taj, then I’d let Pau play 5 & Taj the 4 !!!
I’d bring in Nikola for pau Limited mins with Taj then bring Jo back early 2nd qtr with 2nd string mostly !!! Sit Jo again mid 2nd qtr and only bring him back if needed !!! If that makes any sense ??? Let Taj & Pau play good mins together !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Could be. But i’m not sure about Pau at 5 vs Taj at 5..

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

How woud you use Brooks & Kirk ???

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SIC
9 months 24 days ago

It’s easier to just explain how I’d do the backcourt.
D-Rose: 25 mpg
Butler: 20 mpg(just at the 2)
Hinrich, splitting time between the 1 and 2: 25
Snell(just as a 2): 10
Brooks: 16 mpg.

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Max Mars
9 months 23 days ago

butler will never, ever ever ever play less than 30 minutes under thibs. ever.

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SIC
9 months 23 days ago

@disqus_Dr1vZMtXeb:disqus We need to get a new article to talk on xD

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Road Dawg
9 months 23 days ago

FIBA doesnt offer much & Cleveland has died down whats out there ???

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SIC
9 months 22 days ago

Touche. This article it is!

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SIC
9 months 23 days ago

That was just at the 2. not counting minutes he’d play at the 3.

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Road Dawg
9 months 23 days ago

If we can get Ray Allen to join, we can reduce Jimmy’s minutes !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

I gotta tell you, i’m a big sucker for hinrich. I see him as a modern day Paxson for the Bulls. Most people got upset when he resigned, but i was happy. And he agreed on less money as well, props to him. Kirk’s gotta play when there’s no jimmy and tony. Brooks is a nice player and can fire it up. Don’t know about minutes. Wanna see Derrick first.. Sorry if i’m replying so randomly, i’m watching the Lions game right now :)

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SIC
9 months 24 days ago

I actually model my game after Kirk. He’s an underrated guy. Not everyone can succeed when replacing D-Rose.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Not a problem, I forgot about the game !!! Kirk is crucial to our success !!!
We need him healthy, lets give Aaron the mins and keep kirk & Derrick fresh !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

What i saw from Brooks i actually liked :) He had a strange career and never found the right team, kinda like Augustine. If anybody can revitalize his game it’s Thibs, the Master of Point Guards :)

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

So True !!! Bulls fans are extra excited about this up coming season !!!

# More Than Enough # Next Man Up

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

How do I add you on twitter bro?

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Sorry Max I dont belong to twitter,
The hastag quote is just something I do for fun copying coach Thibs
sayings, MTE, NMU

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Well, any kind of social network would be cool to just exchange opinions and thought during the regular season :) I’m new to this site and don’t really know if there’s personal messages and stuff like that..

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

Click on the name, then follow. You can then see whatever he comments.
That’s really it though, as far as Disqus goes.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Taj can play 5 as he and BOOOOOZER showed, Pau can against certain lineups.
Not to many true centers in the league, most teams use PF’s at center !!! Baristow might get his chance at 5 also !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

I was worrying about Pau at 5. I know Taj can play 5 :) Also, on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy were you when you heard that boozer was finally amnestied?

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

All I can say is, My couch has a weak spot from me slamming my remote control on it when Carlos played that matador ” D ” !!! SIC I, mean SIJH is right that $$$$ was the real problem and not starting Taj because of it !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago
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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

Naw I’m changing it back to SIC.

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

6. I actually liked Boozer. Aside from his contract, he was an extreme professional who kept his issues away from the media.
But then again, that dam contract.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

And that defense. Or, better, the lack of it. You know.. i get it that a lot of players just can’t be good defenders. But boozer, and harden for that matter are not even trying. At least give some shit, show that you care!..

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

Boozer tried, he just freaking sucked.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

You think so? With that body he could’ve at least done SOMETHING.. oh well. LA problems now.

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

He wasn’t able to stop penetration, and that was his problem. But he tried. Harden just stares at the ball-handler while his guy gets open and drains a 3.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Or that stupid slapping from behind when the ball handler gets by him? Every-fucking-time. Priceless.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

That loud ass screaming and yelling trying to scare some ” D ” into the game !!!

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago
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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

LMFAO !!!! Man thats priceless !!! Thats all his defense ability right there !!!
Dude you just made my day !!!

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

xD Yeah. Like I said, he tried. He just sucked major fucking ass.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

Boozer seems like a good human being and an awesome father and family man. And maybe he will thrive somewhere else. But he was the worst nightmare for the bulls.

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

No, LeBron was the worst nightmare for the Bulls. Thanks to him, we got stuck with Boozer. Then tore us up for 4 years.

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

That’s exactly what I meant. And it doesn’t matter where he starts, he’s always gonna be matched up against the opponent’s best player.

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

On defense – yes. But on offense he is completely lost as SG. Even hinrich plays a better 2.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

With Derrick back he’ll be able to thrive at SG !!!

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

Yeah, but are we really gonna make McBuckets a SG?

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

SIC & MM you both make compelling arguments !!! If the Bulls want to have a bench that can’t defend then you start Tony & Jimmy at the 2 & 3 !!! The Problem with that is Doug Mike & Nikola cant catch a cold if it were standing still !!!
The balance line up will have Jimmy ending most games playing the 3 & Tony or Kirk playing the 2 !!!

# More Than Enough # Next Man Up

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SIC
9 months 25 days ago

Oy. Don’t be surprised if Brooks gets some 4th quarter action, too. Especially if we sit Rose to rest him for a few games over the year.
Starters: JoNo, Gasol, Dun(to start the year), Butler, Rose.
4th Quarter: JoNo, Taj, Butler, Hinrich, Rose.

I’d like to see some lineups featuring Gasol at C, Gibson at PF, and Nikola at SF with Butler and Hinrich in the backcourt. I think that would both keep JoNo fresh and give us an extremely dynamic lineup.

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

What Happened in that 2nd half yesterday ??

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SIC
9 months 24 days ago

Jacksonville became Jacksonville. The Eagles honed in on Hurns, Henne threw bad throws all day, and our defense stopped getting sacks. I mean, come on, seriously. How do you blow a damn 17 point lead?

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

Great insight again SIC :-) !!! John Hooks is not 10, he’s 3 !!!

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SIC
9 months 24 days ago

Explains why he types so slow xD

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

What Happened in that 2nd half yesterday ???

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Max Mars
9 months 25 days ago

No idea.. I’d play McBuckets and Snell at 2 and Dunleavy and Butler at 3. At least this way the starters defense and bench defense kinda sorta still works (Snell will be a very good defender, i’m sure). That way you have Buckets and Butler and Dunleavy and Snell. Although Thibs will never start Doug so forget everything i’ve said :)

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Road Dawg
9 months 25 days ago

If Doug can move his feet and defend Thibs would start him !!! Doug is not going to play 2 at all with the Bulls !!!
He’s a natural 3, he has to be able to defend baseline screens, double screens, run to the 3 point line sideline to sideline, defend in the post up game, all the things Jimmy already does better than any Bulls player !!!

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Golie-Lorenzo Green
10 months 8 days ago

The only reason his shooting percentage dropped is because he was being asked to so much on defense and then was getting g double teamed on offense because there weren’t any other threats in the backcourt. With Rose returning, the addition of McBuckets, Pau Gasol and Tony Snell stepping it up I think Butler will do good things offensively. The Bulls should get a contract in place now because if he improves on offense even a little bit they may lose him to free agency when that time comes. Butler is by far a top 5 defender of wings in a league full of talented scorers at that position the bulls need him more than most realize.

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Varney
10 months 8 days ago

His shooting was dismal last year and that is why it is not a foregone conclusion. Snell is shaping up to be a better shooter with excellent defensive skills. So Butler can’t shoot like Bruce Bowen, who was a supreme defender and can’t pass or shoot like Kawhi Leonard, also an excellent defender. Snell on the other hand could possibly be like Kawhi and a better offensive player than Butler. So, the real question is, will Butler take LESS to get a shot at a Bulls Championship?

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Robert Felton
9 months 29 days ago

There are other teams that will gladly pay him $10.5. He’s a stellar defender, a noted LBJ defender, &, avgd. 13 ppg in a year he supposedly “struggled.” When in fact the reason for his low O #’s, were that he became the the focal point of D’s w/ no Rose &, Deng. The Bulls should not procrastinate on this.

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Kevin Woods
10 months 8 days ago

Uh…..yeah…..of course they need to extend Butler!

I mean…..is there really any doubt?

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bernhe7
10 months 8 days ago

Let’s wait and see his shooting percentage. Yes we want to retain but not overpay a guy who primarily might be a defensive specialist. “Chicago has been at least slightly better defensively when he’s played in each of his three seasons with the club.”
I say wait a few months.

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Robert Felton
9 months 29 days ago

To wait is to give him &, his agent more leverage, when he plays better, which he will. Get it done @ $10.5, it will be a bargain when it’s all said $ done.

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Golie-Lorenzo Green
10 months 8 days ago

Are you serious? Slightly better? No way, there was no player on the Bulls between the 1 – 3 that plays better defense then Butler. Actually when you look at our team last year the entire backcourt was a liability outside of Butler and Snell. Dunleavy only plays defense through the system, he can’t be put on the best offensive threat of the opposing squad like Butler can.

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HoopsRumors
10 months 8 days ago

The deadline to sign a player to a rookie scale extension is October 31st, so while they could evaluate Butler in the preseason, they couldn’t hesitate any longer without setting him up for restricted free agency next year.

–Chuck