THURSDAY, 1:59pm: Johnson suggests the potential remains that Friday’s 11:00pm Central time deadline will motivate Butler and the Bulls to strike a deal, but the Chicago Tribune scribe adds that the sides remain far apart in their proposals (Twitter link).
WEDNESDAY, 11:54am: Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler are unlikely to sign extensions with the Spurs and Bulls, respectively, before Friday’s deadline, a source tells Chris Broussard of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Leonard is reportedly seeking the maximum salary, and while a recent report indicated Butler and the Bulls were “millions apart” in talks, that sort of separation is not uncommon in the days leading up to the rookie scale extension deadline. Broussard also hears the Knicks won’t grant an extension to Iman Shumpert, advancing the reporting of ESPN colleague Ian Begley.
Bulls GM Gar Forman said earlier today that he’d met with Butler’s agent, Happy Walters, and that Butler’s left thumb injury wouldn’t affect negotiations, tweets David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. The injury is expected to keep him out no longer than three weeks, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune notes (Twitter links). It’s unlikely that the eye infection that plagued Leonard throughout the preseason and forced him to miss San Antonio’s opening night game Tuesday would affect an extension for him, either.
The Spurs and Brian Elfus, who represents Leonard, have reportedly met several times in the past few weeks but have made no progress, though the Spurs appear poised to match any maximum salary offer sheet that Leonard would sign in restricted free agency next summer. The reigning Finals MVP appears prepared to buck the tradition of San Antonio’s stars agreeing to discounts, though the Spurs could still prevail on Leonard to do so next summer even if they can’t convince him to take less in an extension by the end of Friday.
Butler expressed confidence just days ago that he and the Bulls would come to an extension, so presumably talks, which the swingman said a month ago were going in the right direction, have hit a snag. Chicago apparently had a preference to come to an extension rather than let Butler, who turned 25 last month, hit restricted free agency. The Bulls have about $60.2MM tied up for 2015/16, and Kirk Hinrich holds a nearly $2.9MM player option, so Chicago probably wouldn’t have the cap flexibility to replace Butler if he were to sign an offer sheet and Forman and company decided against matching.