The Bulls made extension proposals that would have given Jimmy Butler salaries that averaged $11MM a year, but the swingman turned them down, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune. The sides failed to reach a deal before this evening’s 11:00pm Central extension deadline, so Butler is set to hit restricted free agency in the summer. Trade kickers and player options were on the table, and the clubs discussed the idea of doing a short-term deal, too, according to Johnson, but negotiations that the Tribune reporter describes as “cordial” came up empty.
Agent Happy Walters told reporters early this evening that talks were at an end and that Butler was unwilling to give the team a hometown discount. Bulls GM Gar Forman also acknowledged that talks were at an end, yet Butler wasn’t willing to give up hope until the last minute. The 30th overall pick from the 2011 draft also made it clear that he wants to remain in Chicago and stated a belief that he’d strike a deal with the team in free agency if an extension proved unreachable. Forman expressed the same optimism that the Bulls will re-sign Butler next summer, as Johnson notes.
The Bulls had reportedly preferred to reach an extension as talks got underway about a month ago, and while Butler expressed confidence earlier this week that they’d reach agreement before the deadline, a report early Thursday indicated it was unlikely. The sides apparently had a difference of $2.5MM in annual value in their proposals as they talked that day, and it’s unclear if they came any closer Friday.
Chicago already has nearly $60.2MM committed for 2015/16, leaving little room against a projected $66.5MM salary cap to replace Butler if he were to sign an offer sheet that the Bulls didn’t match. The now 25-year-old Houston native took a step back offensively last season, but it’s his strong defense that makes him a valuable part of coach Tom Thibodeau‘s schemes and a candidate for eight-figure salaries, as I examined this summer when I looked at Butler’s case for a deal.