A year after giving Jimmy Butler one of the richest contracts in franchise history, the Bulls are reportedly thinking about putting the All-Star shooting guard on the trading block. Back in July, Butler turned down a host of other suitors and signed a five-year, $92.34MM deal to stay in Chicago.
It was supposed to mark the continuation of a dream backcourt alongside point guard Derrick Rose, but the injury-plagued Bulls have struggled to gain traction in the Eastern Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs as the regular season enters its final two weeks. Moreover, rumblings have emerged about a power struggle behind the scenes involving Butler and Rose.
When Butler made comments in December suggesting that new coach Fred Hoiberg was too “laid back” to be successful, Nick Friedell of ESPN.com saw it as an effort to step out of Rose’s shadow and claim leadership of the team. Friedell also indicated that Butler was speaking for several players in the Bulls’ locker room, but it wasn’t clear if Rose was among them. Rumors of a rift between the star guards had been simmering since Butler signed his new contract, and a Chicago Sun-Times report in October indicated through an unidentified source that Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic.
There’s little doubt that changes are coming in Chicago this summer, whether or not the Bulls can squeak into the playoffs. Pau Gasol has already said it’s likely that he will opt out of his contract. Joakim Noah, who has been sidelined since mid-January with a separated shoulder, is also headed toward free agency and may be leaving town.
But the most important decision for GM Gar Forman may be whether to bring an end to the Butler-Rose pairing. Butler still has four years and $72.475MM left on the deal he signed last summer, although the final season is a player option, while Rose is under contract for one more year at $21,323,250.
That brings us to the topic for this evening: If the Bulls decide to break up their backcourt, should they trade away Butler or Rose? Butler is 26 and has become the team’s most reliable scorer, putting up his second straight season with a scoring average above 20 points per game. Rose is 27 and appears to be leaving behind the effects of the ACL injury that cost him the entire 2012/13 season. Tonight’s game is his 63rd of the season, which is the most he has played since 2010/11, although his scoring and assist numbers are well below what they were five years ago.
Take to the comments section below to share your thoughts and opinions on the topic. We look forward to what you have to say.