Talented Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler intends to pursue shorter-term offer sheets this summer, resisting the Bulls’ initial plans to offer him a five-year, maximum contract, league sources have informed Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The 25-year-old can become a restricted free agent this summer provided Chicago tenders him a qualifying offer worth $4,433,683, which it will almost assuredly do. With the NBA’s salary cap set to dramatically rise beginning with the 2016/17 campaign, Butler has become far less interested in locking himself into the five-year, $90MM-plus deal the Bulls are expected to present him on July 1st, Wojnarowski adds.
Despite the Bulls being able to match any offer sheet that Butler was to ink, Butler’s agents, Happy Walters and Steve McCaskill of Relativity Media, could seek a short-term offer sheet that includes a trade kicker that could potentially scare Chicago off, Wojnarowski adds. A shorter deal would also allow Butler to become an unrestricted free agent as early as the summer of 2017, the Yahoo! scribe notes. If the Bulls make Butler a five-year offer for the max with no option clauses, the shortest offer sheet another team could give him would be for three seasons, and none of those three seasons could be an option year. If the Bulls don’t make Butler a max offer like that, offer sheets from other teams can be as short as two years, though neither of those two years can be an option.
Butler has been spending time in Los Angeles this offseason, and according to league sources, the swingman’s interest in signing an offer sheet with the Lakers, if offered, has increased, Wojnarowski relays. The player has preliminary plans to pursue meetings with a number of teams once the free agent signing period begins in July, and several of these potential suitors have told Wojnarowski that they are under the impression that a short-term, max money offer is the best way to try and lure Butler this offseason. This includes the Bulls, who if they remain adamant about wanting to lock up Butler to a long-term contract, will risk the player signing an offer sheet with another franchise, the Yahoo! scribe notes.
The 25-year- old Butler is fresh off of his best NBA season, earning honors as the NBA’s Most Improved Player. Butler averaged 20.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in 38.7 minutes per night. His career averages are 11.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and two assists.