Jimmy Butler to extend or not extend?

Jimmy Butler to extend or not extend?

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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  • Unless he improves dramatically, I think paying Jimmy Butler much more than the MLE is a huge mistake. No one guards him at the three-point line. He regressed to being pretty much a defender and nothing else last year. The idea of paying him the max is insane. Again, if he doesn't improve, you can find a stingy wing defender for around the MMLE and not see much drop-off in my opinion.

    I'll also add that he's already 25, this isn't his developmental stage anymore where it would be common for him to take a big leap. He took the big leap last year. Unfortunately, it was backwards. The money can be better spent elsewhere if you can't get Jimmy at a reasonable salary.

  • Anyone giving Jimmy Butler an 8 figure contract per year is going to quickly regret it. I like the guy but saying he is a max guy based on his elite defense is a joke because wing defenders are cheap and plentiful. A two way player he is not.

    I would say Bradley Beal is in the top 5 on my SG rankings.

  • In reply to Chad:

    I agree. The Bulls have plenty of experience at overpaying, both FAs (Wallace, Boozer, Hamilton) and resigning their own guys (Deng). It's a bit like rolling the dice, but you want the odds in your favor.

    Moneyball! Getting the most for your money. Consistently! Butler for $6 million per? Sure. For $8 million? Probably. For $10 million? Only if he makes a big leap up and is a good fit. Bulls have a lot of guys in the front court - Noah, Pau, Taj, Mirotic, McDermott, even Bairstow. Butler's skill set is different, but unless he improves, he should only be re-upped on the cheap.

  • The Bulls have had some hits and misses as far as getting guys to sign up for reasonable deals that help the team. Ben Gordon and Luol Deng held out for more money. Gordon ended up departing, which turned out to be a benefit, but some wailed that the Bulls lost an asset for nothing. Deng held out for more money and eventually got it. When approached this most recent time, he again turned down the Bulls' initial offer and this time was traded, only to accept an offer worse than the Bulls' offer. Meanwhile, Noah and Taj signed for lucrative but team-friendly deals. Let's hope Jimmy is more like Noah and Taj than Ben and Luol.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    totally agree, interestingly I find Butler to be right in the middle of those 4 guys in terms of my desire to retain him. I liked/loved Noah and Taj, despised Gordon and always thought that Deng was overpaid and a non impact guy. I like Butler better than Gordon and Deng, but not as much as Noah or Taj. If his offense picks back up to what it looked like it was before last season then he moves up to Taj's level.

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    I'm a fan of Jimmy Butler, and really admire his road to build himself into a find NBA player, but I wouldn't give Jimmy an extension knowing that Doug McDermott could become the team's starting SF, and Tony Snell could be over his rookie jitters and become a much improved defender and scorer in his 2nd year.
    The thing that bothers me about Jimmy is his small hands. He'll never be one to attack the basket and finish. He doesn't have the ball handling skills, nor the ability to drive and flush. We all know he can't shoot and that's not going to change with Derrick Rose in the lineup. He's best served receiving the pass while slashing to the hole, alley-oops, or scoring off of tip backs.
    Tony Snell has better handles, and the ability to attack off of the dribble. He's also a better shooter. Snell's ceiling as a SG is much higher than Butler's imo.
    If Snell shows improvement the Bulls could always move him into the starting SG pos in 2015-16 and sign Gerald Green to play with the 2nd unit for much less than it would cost to resign Jimmy Not So Sure Buckets.

  • In reply to Michael Cunningham:

    You might be right about Snells talent, however, as an NBA player it is always better to be awake while playing, which is Butlers biggest advantage over Snell, and one which might never go away.

  • Speaking of the sorry state of SG's in today's NBA Doug refers to, I decided to check the 2014 playoff SG leaders. Thee "elite" James Harden shot .419 and .314 on an astounding NINE three point attempts per game. You talk about an anathema to winning, he's it. If not for his Flops R' Us manufactured free throws his efficiency would have been truly off the charts.. in terms of awful.

    As for the young guns, Bradley Beal 19ppg .432 and .409 from three on five shots per game. Not bad. Klay Thompson - the best shooting combo along with Steph Curry in NBA HISTORY if you believe unbiased Mark Jackson and several NBA "experts." Thompson 15.5ppg on .423 and only .324 from three on six easy way out hoists per game. This is the guy you can't part with for Kevin Love?

    Really, you could argue that "scoring" guards should include today's bumper crop of offensively prolific point guards thanks in part to the "hands off" rules now in place. Damian Lillard 22ppg over 10 games on .435 and .381 on six shots fired(threes) per game. Chris Paul, who while celebrated never seems to take his teams a long ways in the playoffs, but still 20ppg .476 and .439 from downtown on 5 shots per game. Steph Curry, Tony Parker, and Jose(can you see) Calderon all quality shooting guards. Though I with great reluctance put Russell Westbrook on that list when the guy at yes 27ppg but shooting .295 on five nail in the coffin threes jacked per contest. I mean there are games where he just kills you. And I know he has a floppy turn-style pass to the line, but still, I mean, come on.

    When in comparison to the overall mosh pit of today's shooting guards(notice how nobody calls the position that any more), Jimmy Butler's playoff 15ppg .389 but .375 on five threes pg doesn't seem so bad, though he was 0 for in the first two games vs Washington and really only a 6-15 barrage in a meaningless series clincher(for the other team) saved his percentage.

    Jimmy Butler may seem palatable in the age of of A.A.U., playing the WRONG(as opposed to right) way, mega three jacking Ray Allen wannabees. Still, if winning a championship is the desired objective(let alone being entertained by offensive talent), it's hard to see a historically low volume as in not three point shooter and a guy who can't drive to the basket as a major rotation piece in a championship squad.

    Bottom line: Unless he can start hitting a decent percentage(35 and up) on volume threes of four or more per game, I really don't want an overrated in my book defender one dimensional wing like Butler on my team for anything more then $6-7 Mil per year. It just shows that people talking about potentially the Max for what a guy like Butler has shown thus far, how sad the state of SHOOTING guards is in today's NBA.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    If the FO is buying potential, it better be for cheap, because a lot of "potential" will never show on the court! But if they get a guy for cheap and he hits, it can be a real steal.

    Bulls need some of those to keep the total salary in check, and to resign All-stars, in case they get one again.

  • Where did you get your stats?

    2014 NBA Playoffs:

    Harden - 27ppg, FG .376, 3P .296

    Beal - 19ppg. FG .424, 3P .425

    Paul - 20ppg, FG .467, 3P .457

    Lillard - 23ppg, FG .439, 3P .386

    Klay - 16.4ppg, FG .404, 3P .364

    Westbrook - 27ppg, 3P .280

    Jimmy Bitler - 13.6ppg, FG .386, 3P .300

    Ginobili - per 36 20.3ppg, FG .439, 3P .390

    Ginobili re-signed with the Spurs in 04-05 starting at 6.6million. He put up decent numbers before his extension and really good numbers after. If Butler wants to stay with the Bulls he would take less than what the market will offer. All these desperate teams in FA have messed everything up.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    I wouldn't give re-sign Jimmy Butler but I would give a max contract to Jimmy Bitler.

  • Anyone else read the grantland article on Derrick Rose and his mid range shooting. In 09-10 he was the most efficient mid range shooter of players taking at least 500 shots. Ahead of Dirk and KD.


    Compare that season to the following ones and has efficiency has regressed a lot. What happened?

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    I always contended that Rose was a better shooter his first 2 years in the league when everyone said that he couldn't shoot. Clearly when he started "working" on his 3 point game, everything else went south. I don't know what he been " working" on for the past 2 years, but I bet he shot more 3's than anything else. It will be very interesting to see what kind of a player he is going forward, I don't have any illusions that he will become an elite shooter though.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Interestingly, ESPN/Grantland did an extensive piece today on what happened to Rose's jump shot, particularly his mid range game. Great article, and it really doesn't bode well for the future.


    Basically, they demonstrate exactly what I thought, Rose was a great(elite) mid range shooter(3rd in volume, first in efficiency) his first 2 seasons before he decided to work on his 3 point game. The 3 point game destroyed his mid range game, and he may never get it back.

    How hard is it for the Bulls and everyone associated with Rose's game and training to figure out was was obvious to a 50 year old guy watching on TV. This article is both shocking and obvious at the same time.

  • well its not just the midrange jumpers that Rose regressed on. He used to be really good with runners/shot put attempts but he's missing those as well. He's fallen in love with the 3pt shot but the love aint coming back...he definitely needs to get back to what he did well at during his sophomore year. I think he shot 47% field goal. He was definitely more efficient.

    As for Butler, I agree with most here that he's somewhere between 5-7 million a year guy, once he starts pushing on 8-9 million a year, forget it and move on. He won't help with the Bulls scoring and shot creation problems.

  • Alot of it depend less on how well Jimmy plays next year and more on how much Snell improves. The bottom line is unless Butler has a true breakout season where he's looking like a perennial All Star, and Snell how any sign of improvement he easily make Butler expandable. Infact I wouldn't be surprised if that's why the Bulls picked Snell to begin with as insurance for Deng and Butler.

    Personally the most I would pay for Butler is 8mil per at max. Financial flexibility for the team i far more important and even though he's a good defender he is also easily replaceable.

  • I think that I am in agreement with you on Butler, although I probably draw the cutoff at Taj Gibson money, 4 years @ about $8 million per with some incentives, if he wants more, I let him go to RSFA.

    I know that Butlers contract is going to be market driven, but in my mind Taj Gibson's contract is the limit of Butlers value. Maybe since he is a "starter" and Taj apparently still isn't you give him as much as $10 million per, but it will be an overpay. Based on last seasons performance there is now way he is worth any more than the MLE. I also don't think that his value league wide is perceived as being in the same class as either Parsons or Hayword.

    Offer him exactly what you gave Taj, and see what he does, that would seem very hard to pass up for a guy like Butler.

  • In reply to BigWay:

    A contract that might be used as a measuring stick for Butler, would be the 4ys/$32 million that Avery Bradley got this summer from the Celtics. Pretty much everybody outside the Celtics organization has panned that deal as being way too rich for a guy who made his bones as a defensive stopper. However, his offensive numbers last season were a lot better than Butlers. Also, Trevor Ariza got 4yrs/$32 million from the Rockets. Is Butler better than either of those guys?

  • In reply to BigWay:

    Isaiah Thomas 4ys/$28 million, Lance Stephenson 3yrs/$27 million. Butler isn't even the best defender among these 4 guys, Bradley is and he is almost certainly the leasts offensively talented.

  • pay butler. 6 mil per seems about right. outside of tony allen who plays the def end as hard as allen at the sg position? he goes hard every night. he doesnt shy away from the big match up. hes an awesome teammate. it will be hard to replace that effort even though hes not a master scorer. and who needs 20+ from him when u have rose, pau, and mcbuckets getting all the shots.

  • I'm a little late to this article, but my 2-cents are:
    Butler is an MLE guy. Shouldn't pay much more than that.

    If Bulls extend him in October it will be for value/lower-priced signing.
    If Butler wants more, Bulls will wait out the season and see how Snell and McDermott pan out, as well as how Butler performs this year. Will Butler be able to shoot this year?

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