Grantland did a long piece on intriguing extension candidates with Jimmy Butler appearing in their top six. It's an interesting time to look at player extensions given the massive increase in salary cap which will be coming in a couple years to help tone down any extensions given.
Full article here:
Jimmy Butler, Chicago Bulls
This is perhaps the perfect aggressive extension case — an elite wing defender who carried a ton of momentum into his third season and promptly watched his shooting fall into the toilet. Butler’s defense remained stout, and if Derrick Rose can help him rediscover his shooting touch, Butler will draw huge interest as a free agent in a league short on two-way wings.
Chicago might have a window now to ink Butler on a long-term deal that wagers on a rebound but doesn’t carry the full cost of one. If Butler turns it down and plays well enough to draw a max offer sheet, the Bulls could shrug, sign it, and know they did their best to get a better deal.
Rose will turn Butler back into a spot-up shooter, but playing two years without Rose has helped Butler develop all the other parts of his game. The Bulls have used him as the screener in pick-and-rolls, and they have even designed funky plays in which Butler fakes a pick under the rim and reverses into post-up position.
He shot a disastrous 32 percent on the pick-and-roll last season, but Chicago’s spacing was mostly bad, and a lot of those were heaves late in the shot clock. The Rose-less Bulls lacked a point guard capable of puncturing the defense, so when the ball found its way back to Butler for a secondary attack, he had to work against a set defense. He can’t really do that.
He can drive in either direction, he’s a canny reader of defenses, and he’s a bulldozer going to the rim once he gets a head of steam:
Butler, jersey somehow always untucked, looks like Earl Campbell barreling through defenders. He can take a bump and hang in the air, which helped him draw shooting fouls on nearly 15 percent of his pick-and-roll finishes — the third-highest such mark among all ball handlers,9 per Synergy.
Stick Butler in a whirring offense that would get him the ball against scrambled defenses and he could become the Bulls’ version of Kawhi Leonard — a so-so off-the-bounce guy who can create just fine given a small head start.
All of this hinges on Butler finding his stroke after shooting just 28 percent from deep last season. Defenses stopped guarding him, allowing his man to muck up more threatening stuff in the paint.
He has a slowish release that turns open jumpers into contested shots, and, whoa boy, did Butler brick away on contested shots. He hit just 31 percent of guarded shots outside 10 feet, per SportVU data provided to Grantland, one of the worst marks in the league.
He missed a bundle of open shots, too, but he nailed nearly 38 percent of his 3s in 2012-13. Butler’s defense is a known commodity. If his all-around offense catches up, he’ll be coveted leaguewide.
So a few important notes from this article. Rose can't turn Butler into a good offensive player. He can possibly give Butler better opportunities, more open looks, more easy finishes, but he won't make Butler a creator, shooter, or slasher if Butler doesn't improve his skill level.
The comparison to Kawhi Leonard may not be so far off base if Jimmy Butler improves considerably over the off-season. However, at this point, Kawhi has better much better shooting touch Butler off the dribble and is a better shooter from deep.
One thing Butler has going for him is the shooting guard crop is really poor right now. It wouldn't be hard to make a case for Butler as the 5th best (or so) shooting guard in the NBA right now. You've got Harden, Wade, and Kobe in the "elite" category, but two of those three are massive injury question marks that could fall off the map.
Klay Thompson's the next best guy, but who wants to even take a stab after that? It's a blackhole. That said, if you can get Jimmy Butler for 15 million, but Wesley Matthews is reupping next year around seven million what would you choose?
Butler's a good defender, but he plays in an A+ defensive scheme with a mastermind defensive coach. If he looks good on offense a huge portion of it will be due to the players around him and his scheme. It's hard for me to see Butler as a guy who moves the meter in a big way.
Thabo Sefolosha, Shane Battier, Tony Allen, etc weren't recipients of big contracts, and while Butler may have something on those guys, I don't think that something quantifies the difference to pay him 15 million.
In a market where Gordon Hayward and Chandler Parsons both received max money per year in free agency, Chicago might have to expect that's where the market will go for Butler even if it seems completely insane. Whether that even begins to make sense will depend entirely on this next season and not just how well Butler does but how well the team does.
Butler's fair market value is probably around 6-10 million depending what he does next season. Teams know they have to overpay considerably to pry away an RFA, so if someone takes a liking to him then the money will go way above that amount.
Keeping him around for 15 million if any one of the scenarios causing the Bulls to fall off the map happens all of a sudden looks silly. You don't want to start rebuilding with a 15 million dollar per year Jimmy Butler anchor on your salary cap, but if Chicago wins the title or falls just short and looks like they'll have a legit chance, paying up for Butler for a few years won't matter.
At eight million per year, I think the Bulls can feel pretty happy about keeping Jimmy Butler. At 10 million per year, they could stomach it if it's for four years because the final two years will feel discounted once the salary cap rises.
At more than 10 Chicago simply has to wait. As long as Derrick Rose is the PG and neither Butler or Rose can shoot threes, they'll always be a dicey fit together on the floor much like Deng and Rose.
It's just not that hard to find a defensive oriented wing player with a so-so offensive game. Bulls fans for a few years thought it'd be difficult to replace Luol Deng, but Jimmy Butler is doing so just fine. Deng leaving didn't even move the meter in the slightest. I'm not sure how much Butler leaving would move it either.
Waiting a year, the Bulls may find out they have something in Tony Snell (I doubt it, but you never know), or may find a way to add another defensive wing in some other fashion.
In the end, having great defensive wings never did much to slow down LeBron in the past either. For all the talk of who will slow down LeBron without Deng/Butler, I ask how much did those two ever do to slow down LeBron anyway? They may make LeBron's life more difficult by having guys who can score out there and forcing him to work harder on defense than great defensive wings anyway.
In the end, it'd be tough to lose Butler in a year simply because he's a very good player and a team never gets better from letting very good players go. Chicago should try to work through an extension, but weighing Jimmy's market and potential improvement this year will prove tricky.
Thinking it over, I'd say 4/40 seems to be the point that splits the risk down the middle. I don't know if I'd offer it if I'm the Bulls, but the most Jimmy's likely to give up in that deal is five million per year, and the most the Bulls are likely to overpay Jimmy in that deal is five million per year.
It puts both parties at roughly a five million per year risk with a likelihood, IMO, of overpaying Butler by two million per year or so.
Another way to look at it would be to add up his abilities.
He earns four million based on great defense. Great defense simply isn't worth that much (Brewer, Allen, Thabo will all tell you)
He earns another four million based on competent offense. (unlike those guys, Butler won't actively hurt your offense with his presence on the floor)
He earns another 1-2 million based on the likely cap increase coming for the final two years of his deal which will inflate fair market value once the cap goes up to around 90 million.
That puts a fair market value deal for Butler in the 4/36 to 4/40 range as well.
We'll see if the Bulls and Butler can find a way to meet in the middle of what both sides think is fair.
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