10:46am: The Bulls are open to a player option, Johnson reports (Twitter link).
9:17am: The Happy Walters client is strongly leaning toward Chicago’s five-year offer instead of a shorter deal, reports Marc Stein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
12:48am: Butler wants a player option in any deal that he signs, and while he may shop himself to other teams if the Bulls don’t grant that request, Chicago would still match any offer, according to K.C. Johnson the Chicago Tribune (Twitter links).
WEDNESDAY, 12:12am: The swingman is thinking about doing a five-year max deal that includes a player option on the last season with the Bulls, tweets Shams Charania of RealGM.
TUESDAY, 11:09am: Butler put off meetings with the Lakers, Celtics, Sixers and Mavs when the Bulls made their max qualifying offer and is now deciding how many years to sign for on a deal with Chicago, reports Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
MONDAY, 3:43pm: The Bulls have given Jimmy Butler a maximum qualifying offer, meaning other teams can’t sign him to an offer sheet that runs fewer than three years, reports Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders (Twitter links). Those three years can’t include an option. Opposing teams would otherwise be limited to offer sheets of at least two years had Chicago merely extended a standard qualifying offer. The Bulls have also made the standard QO, worth nearly $4.434MM, that Butler can accept if he is intent on reaching unrestricted free agency as quickly as possible, though that would entail great financial sacrifice this season.
The max qualifying offer, by rule, is a fully guaranteed five years with a starting salary at the max and 7.5% raises. It can’t include any option years. The Bulls and Butler are free to negotiate different terms, but it nonetheless raises the stakes, with Butler reportedly wanting to sign a short-term deal with the Lakers.
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune reported back in January that the Bulls planned a max offer for Butler, so today’s news is no surprise. Still, paying an estimated max salary of around $19MM to Butler next season will likely send the Bulls, who already have about $63MM in guaranteed salary for 2015/16, into tax territory, with the tax line projected to come in at $81.6MM.