JULY 9TH, 11:25am: The deal is official, the team announced via press release.
“We are thrilled that Jimmy has committed to remain a Chicago Bull for years to come,” GM Gar Forman said in the press release. “As one of the leagues rising stars, we look forward to his continued growth and him being a major contributor to our team’s continued success.”
JULY 1ST, 1:21pm: Jimmy Butler and the Bulls are finalizing a max contract for five years with a player option after year four, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). It’ll be worth an estimated $95MM, according to Wojnarowski, with the precise value to be determined, when the deal can become official at the end of the July Moratorium next week. Other teams pursuing him have given up the chase, Wojnarowski adds. The client of Happy Walkers and Steve McCaskill was strongly leaning toward taking Chicago’s five-year offer, as Marc Stein of ESPN.com had reported earlier, and it long appeared as though the Bulls would keep him, with the power to match offers and the willingness to pay the max.
The restricted free agent reportedly intended to seek short-term offer sheets, but wound up re-signing with Chicago on a deal that won’t allow him to choose free agency until 2019. Still, when the Bulls tendered a maximum qualifying offer, that meant Butler couldn’t sign an offer sheet that would let him into free agency sooner than 2018, and he apparently put off meetings with the Lakers, Sixers and Mavs when that offer from Chicago came in. The only recourse would have been to sign his standard qualifying offer, worth less than $4.434MM, and while that would have let him into unrestricted free agency next summer, it would have been a profound financial sacrifice for this coming season.
Butler already gambled on himself when he passed up $11MM salaries on a proposed extension with Chicago this past fall. The former 30th overall pick apparently would have settled for between $12.5MM and $13MM a year at that point, but his performance this season, which earned him this year’s Most Improved Player of the Year award, sent his value skyrocketing.
The result will cost the Bulls even more than the difference between what he might have taken in an extension and an estimated $16MM starting salary for this coming season. Chicago, which also agreed to a three-year, $14.4MM deal with Mike Dunleavy today, is almost certain to pay a stiff tax bill, since it entered free agency with $63MM already against a tax threshold likely to land somewhere around $82MM when the league sets it at the end of the moratorium.