Jimmy Butler's getting paid

Jimmy Butler's getting paid

Has Jimmy Butler developed into a much better player or does he simply play much better on a much better team? Much like Luol Deng, Butler's not particularly adept at creating his own shot or hitting the three, but he looks awfully good on a team with quality teammates where he has a step of space when making decisions.

Teams seeing what Butler can do in a good environment may well forget that he looked quite a bit more pedestrian on offense in a poor one. In fact, if Butler were to finish the season with these numbers then he's absolutely getting a max offer from someone next season.

The Bulls will regret not getting an extension done, but the downside risk never made sense to do one. They may spend an extra two million per season on Butler next year, but he's presently playing with a PER of around 21 vs a career average of 14.5.

Paying Butler 12-13 million per season for what he'd previously shown would have been a massive risk even if there were plenty of signs he'd improve with a real cast around him. Heck paying him the max when he looks like a guy who's success relies considerably on the level of talent around him still looks dicey, but they simply won't be able to afford to lose him.

Perhaps Butler will slow down as the season progresses changing the conversation, but right now the case could be made that he's been the Bulls best player. He's trivially their best perimeter defender and thus far has been the best team defender as well.

He's also their leading scorer in terms of points per game (though fourth behind Gasol, Rose, and Brooks in points per minute) while doing that scoring with a TS% over 60% which is in the elite category. Through his six games this season, Jimmy Butler has made the transition to elite efficiency on heavy volume type on offense.

In fact, those Paul George upside comparisons everyone gave Jimmy? They all of a sudden don't look quite so crazy.

It's tempting to hedge. It's tempting to assume Butler will simply slow down and regress to the mean. However watching the way he's getting his points I don't see what he can't continue. His three point shooting seems a bit high relative to my perception of his quality as a shooter, but he's only taking quality looks with his feet set.

His mid range jump shooting percentage has been really good, but he's taking short mid range shots that should be will within his range. His ability to get to the free throw line has been proven throughout his career already and shouldn't be questioned.

Jimmy Butler looks like a guy who can kick a defense's ass when given that extra one step of space. Last year he didn't have it. Last year his looks weren't this good. This year he does and the difference is eye popping.

Even more impressive, he's still playing with his sprained thumb wrapped up and isn't even fully healthy. His play has been so good through the injury that the thought that he's playing injured has slipped through our consciousness.

When Rose attempted the come back last season, Jimmy Butler was viewed as the wild card. He ended his sophomore campaign shooting really well from beyond the arc and started to show a scoring streak. Bulls fans felt if only he could continue that streak and become an efficient offensive player that they'd have a complete team.

He's done it. Now he just needs to keep it up.

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  • He's irreplaceable, if he goes, so does our championship odds for next year.

  • Losing Butler may be inevitable. The structure of the current CBA punishes teams, via the salary cap, for developing too much talent through the draft; so the FO will have to choose which components of the main player rotation are most valuable.

    Speaking of salary cap, I also have some things to say about the recent comments by Rose concerning his long-term health. Apparently the decision making process Rose goes through to determine whether or not he plays on any given night, is heavily influenced buy how "sore" his body might be during some random business meeting, or high school graduation ceremony, 20 years down the road. Are f*cking kidding me?

    Admittedly Rose is not the most articulate fellow, and has made several comments over the years that make you scratch your head; but this latest verbal diarrhea from Derrick is absolutely inexcusable. Up until this point I have never questioned Rose's rehab timetable, and totally understand his concern for injuries based on his recent history. Yes it's frustrating not having him on the court, but I get it.

    But as soon as Rose agreed to accept that $20 mil/year from the Bulls, he gave up the right to worry about sore knees after he's retired. That $20 mil comes with a price, and that price is sacrificing certain freedoms and liberties while under the employ of a professional sports organization. Accepting that $20 mil means you agree to sacrifice your time, and body, for the good of the team. Too high of a price? That's fine, but then NBA basketball probably isn't for you.

    I have never questioned Rose's character until now; but it seems he has become soft, at least mentally. And if these comments are a genuine representation of his mindset, then I for one have lost a great deal of respect for Derrick, and worry how this will impact the team long term.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    You are correct about what Rose owes his employer now for the money he is being paid now.

    However, it is hard to take anything that he says too seriously. I hate to be so blunt or harsh, but saying that Rose is not particularly bright is just being polite. Truth be told even by athlete standards he is dumb, more so than even the typical NBA player. I.Q. wise he is most likely borderline retarded.

    My sense is that he is mostly a parrot, not an original thought in his head. Most of what he says he is simply parroting whatever has been said to him by whomever has been speaking to him the most frequently and most recently.

    He'd be a lot better off if he spoke less, but he really can't avoid it since reporters are always trying to get a quote from him.

    At least his stupidity hasn't sabotaged his career the way it did Tyrus Thomas's or Eddy Curry's.

    I'm sure this dose of reality won't sit well with the PC crowd.

  • What gives the person sitting at home watching the right to say someone else should risk injury. Have you forgotten that lockout season. It must have been at least 75% of games that Rose was playing with injuries.

    I don't understand how anyone can question his character or his will to play basketball. Less than two weeks ago he injured his ankles, he missed 5 days before giving it a go while clearly still hampered by the ankle sprains.

    Yeah Rose sucks with the media, but to say that he should sacrifice his body when that is precisely what he has done the last 3 years. Are all of the injuries he's had in his career not enough of a sacrifice for you. He's had more severe injuries than the majority of NBA players, so really he has already sacrificed more than most. Injuries/rehab are difficult to overcome especially when they're consecutive and of this severity.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    I agree Rose has has major injuries and coming back early was a big reason he has had 2 major knee injuries/surgeries!
    It is just extremely annoying to hear these stupid sound bites coming out of his and Reggie's mouth again and again!
    Don't talk about saving yourself for life after basketball when you have gotten crazy amount of $ from the Bulls and Adidas about your epic return when then you tore your miniscus last year and took the year off! Play the game and lead us to a Championship...let your game on the court talk loud and clear and not some stupid PR comment(s)...goes for your brother Reggie as well!

  • In reply to smiley:

    As you said coming back early was a big reason he had a 2nd knee injury, so how can you complain about him taking the year off. If he came back last year and tore another ACL(which would have been likely to happen), would you still hold the same stance. I'm sorry but it sounds like people are more upset about the money he's making than the fact that he's taking his time to recover.

    Rose's words are nonsense but when has he sat out when he should have played. He shouldn't have played last year recovering from two knee injuries. If he did we would not competing for a championship this season either.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    The problem is not about the risk of immediate injury, it's about pussy-footing around every little ache and pain, out of concern about how your body may feel 20 years from now. That is the risk of this particular line of work. It'd be like me accepting a paycheck, but then telling my boss I'm not going to worry about deadlines anymore because the constant stress of it might increase my risk of heart disease 20 years from now. I'd be fired on the spot for saying some stupid shit like that, and I only make a tiny fraction of what Rose is pulling in.

    If Rose has an immediate injury (like a sprained ankle) that makes him ineffective, then please, by all means, sit out. Otherwise get your ass on the court and earn that money.

  • In reply to BullsMan:

    He did say that about his future but that's not what he has shown on the court. Your boss should be ok with it because even though you tell him your not worried about deadlines, you are still performing at a high level and meeting your goals. Rose talks garbage to media, always has, always will.

  • In reply to Jamie W:

    You hit it on the head Jamie. What many Bulls fans don't think about is how lucky we are just to watch this kid since he was drafted. Yes, he does say some things he should keep to himself, but only because these selfish fans think he should be some perfect human. We want honesty from athletes, right?

    Aren't we lucky he doesn't act like Lebron used to act or how Russel Westbrook still acts, getting so excited over every great play they do and disrespecting so many other players. Or Wade who complains over each call, or other players who freak out if they are touched the wrong way for a foul? Or Dwight Howard who can't be depended on at the end of a game due to free throw shooting that he hasn't worked hard enough at? He goes out and plays the game the right way. He has played hurt before, like Jamie talked about.

    I know he makes millions of dollars, but all of us would not have the heart that kid has if we made money so easily, to come back from multiple injuries he could not avoid and were merely accidents he could not stop. He cares about his teammates and the fans and could easily lash out at all these nonsense negative fans, but continues to say how he understands their frustration.

    WE ARE SPOILED ROTTEN as Bulls fans. Just relax and watch this kid display his magic and respect how he plays the game!

  • In reply to Keep:

    I agree Rose has given and taken the intense hope we as Bulls fans haven't seen since we had Jordan and Pippen...BUT what was he hoping to accomplish with the completely idiotic statement of sitting out game if he is slightly sore and not 100% so he can have a life after basketball???!!! Maybe 10 years down the line of if/WHEN he gets seriously hurt again..repeated concussions where he has a valid reason to fear his well being...but not now after we see he still attacks the basket, has added 3 pt shooting, had a great team ready to win now...NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO MAKE THESE STATEMENTS DERRICK!!! WTF

  • Regarding Derrick's latest comments about saving himself for life after basketball:

    Angers me so much as a Bulls fan..a fan of really any sport and what we expect from our franchise player who the team has committed to long term and with lots of $ guaranteed to that player!
    He is the franchise player and getting paid over $100M or so on his contract and has barely played in 2-3 years!
    Just shut up already and let your game on the court...when you are on the court...talk and stop making dumb comments to the media about how you will not play if not 100% and life after basketball!!!
    Really makes Rose look like a very self $itch! We all remember Jordan playing his heart out while sick & injured...Nate Robinson puking in a bucket a couple years ago and having a career game! We see Noah playing with heart as you see with Nate...I saw in the past with Ron Artest...with Dennis Rodman...they love the game and leave it all out there on the court and diving out of bounds to save a ball!!!
    We want to see that by our franchise player not a guy we don't know when/if he feels like playing and "saving himself for life after basketball"!!! You would have NO LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL AND THE GOD GIVEN GIFTS DROSE HAS GOTTEN & CHOOSE #1 in the draft by your HOME TOWN TEAM...the team you dreamed of playing for on the roughest ghetto's of CHICAGO!
    GET SOME BALLS Derrick and hire a PR team and stop using your brother Reggie already!!!

  • Jimmy Butler looks great no doubt about it. He's a competitive genuine presence you enjoy watching on your team. Right now is eye popping numbers in this young season including very respectable from volume threes who is not going to want to resign him? True, he has NEVER shown for a season the ability to hit volume threes say three or more more a game with a decent percentage. And as of yet that remains to be seen. But yes right now he looks like a guy you want to keep for sure.

    My question is though, if Jimmy keeps this up then why can't he buck the trend of greed and "only" play for a meager say $10-12 Mil per with the team that gave him his chance and the team he fits in so well with? Answer: he could. As for the notion of "getting paid" and getting the most money you can I don't care how many greedy people do that, some people are smart enough to settle for $10-12 Million frickin' dollars per and be happy. Hope Jimmy G. sees the light.

    Now in regards to "public outrage" i.e Bulls fans or NBA fans in general over Derrick Rose's comments about "saving his health for graduations etc. twenty years from now," honestly, I'm not all that concerned about it.

    Why? Regular people, as in you and me, go through bad days or phases where we say or do things we regret. That doesn't mean they have to define our lives does it? Yes Derrick has done some stupid shit in handling his injuries and comments to the public. That doesn't mean he hasn't exhibited long stretches of scintillating basketball as a fiery competitor.

    I look at Derrick Rose and I think of Scottie Pippen. Early on he was slapped around by Charles Oakley. He was soft on defense where his cynical nickname emerged as "Highway 33" after his uniform number. Then we had "The Headache" bullshit. And even after some success one more bonehead move in refusing to play because he didn't get to take the shot. And in the meanwhile all that happened was a great competitor accomplished a HOF and championship laden career I got to witness as a Bulls fan. And yet I have to hear some a-hole dredge up those few moments of headaches or not wanting to play because as if it is worth investing one iota of my time on this earth in where we are supposed to be be happy. Please save the negativity for somebody stupid enough to buy in.

    Seriously at the end of the day, or more specifically, at the end of your last day, is it really worth hating someone as in some poor kid from the crime ravaged inner city neighborhoods of Chicago who hit the lottery with his freakish talents and abilities?

    Most people who have lives, as in happy ones, are smart enough to tell early on if someone is worth investing in as in reliable or just not worth it. Clearly Derrick Rose is at a crossroads. Yet aren't we possibly seeing some light right now at the end of the tunnel? If you really want to talk about having the wrong priorities, how about the rich dude who has taken all your money, Jerry Reinsdorf, who admittedly was apathetic not about his huge profit machine the Chicago Bulls franchise, only the bothersome fans that go with it.

    Frankly, when it comes to life, I just don't think a lot of people including successful people are all that bright in many areas. Love, finance, the people you choose to associate with etc. Rose with his simplistic attitude seems somewhat a sheltered child like persona. And yes it's time to grow up. We'll see if he meets the challenge. Other f-k ups hide their glaring deficiencies with the correct bullshit speak most adults master. It doesn't mean deep down they are truly meaning what they say or good people. Maybe Derrick despite this recent spate of idiocy and hurting fans which he does yes deserve a swift kick in the ass, but maybe all this adversity has been just that.

    Rose shouldn't have listened to his "family" including his advisers, and yes he is in the end responsible for that. So fine. Don't watch him then. But he certainly is not some anti-social punk or lazy loafer. He just deals poorly with serious injuries and listens to stupid people around him and yes that is his fault. But there are a lot of worse faults in people and in life. He did play while being very sick before and with some painful nagging minor injuries. Was the ACL rehab mishandled? Absolutely. Yes he probably should have played in the playoffs when Deng had spinal tapped out back and was dragging himself down the curt. And his teasing dunking before games and some of his likely coached comments were stupid and alienating. Maybe Derrick chooses the wrong path going forward. Or maybe he stays healthy and is on the verge of providing a great season to remember. Either way I wont hate someone who I'm hoping to take their abilities and hard work and enjoy them at my leisure.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    A thoughtful, excellent comment. Rose will give his all every time he is on the court. I think that's clear. He answered poorly. He is not exactly eloquent. But he is honest. We'll see him have to return to address this problem now (viz., the perception that he is more worried about attending teacher/parent conferences than he is about winning basketball games). If you believe that, you have not been paying attention. Perhaps he could have said, "I don't want to end up crippled, so if I have an injury that the trainers and I think could lead to a more serious injury, I will sit out." Anyway, thanks, RoadWarrior, for a more thoughtful take instead of some knee-jerk response.

  • In reply to RoadWarrior:

    Forgot to especially RoadWarrior's comparison of Derrick with Scottie. I think that's right on.

  • In reply to unclejimmy:

    I'd say that Rose is even more of a simpleton than Pippen was. Pippen was fortunate to have played with Michael in that regard.

  • Some team like Minnesota or Milwaukee, who no prime free agent wants to play for, will overpay for Butler and offer a max contract. The Bulls would be nuts to match it but never underestimate the idiocy of Gar Pax. Butler is a nice player but still a glorified role player who will never be a scorer you can count on.

    Regarding Rose, I don't lose too much sleep over the words of someone who had the SAT taken for him and then got caught. But to dismiss what he said is letting him off way too easy. There are many athletes who grew up under similar circumstances, but I can't remember any of them making such a self-centered and idiotic statement. His diva like attitude regarding his injury is ludicrous and unprecedented. I have never heard an of an athlete having to be completely 100% healthy to play. And he is not being paid $94 mil plus to safeguard his health for retirement. It's a horrible attitude that can spread through the rest of the team like a cancer. It goes against the very nature of competition and I can't wait until he takes his act to another town.

  • Ugh. No edit function. I meant to say that RoadWarrior's comparison of Pippen's history with the Bulls may be a very good backdrop for considering what is going on with Rose right now.

  • It looks like the Bulls are trying to save $2-3 million a year for 4 years against the possibility that

    1-he gets hurt and his value goes down

    2-we overplay him with minutes and his value goes down

    3-Bulls want to KNOW what the salary cap increase will be.

    Maybe a piece of each. (I am excluding the Bulls are CHEAP)

    I keep picturing the Bulls without Butler. We would become soooo much slower and lose soooo much energy.

    I'll bet you can figure where I stand on this.

    COMMENTS?

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    4-Butler continues to struggle from the arc, similar to last season, and the team is stuck with a shooting guard that can't shoot.

    Butler is already trending toward improved offensive performance when compared to last season, so this hopefully won't be the case. But you can't blame the FO for wanting to see how this pans out over the entire season.

    The truth is, the current salary cap structure makes it damn near impossible to have 3 guys at or near max. Maybe the upcoming cap increase helps to lessen the severity of this, but that's still an unknown at this point. Noah is also coming due for a new contract, so that has to be taken into consideration as well. The Bulls, much like the Thunder/Harden and Pacers/Stephenson, will need to juggle the massive salaries of the top players, to fit into the current CBA salary cap rules.

    You're concerns about losing Butler, however, are well founded, as losing him would be a major downer.

  • Some of these comments and a few I've seen elsewhere are reasons why even having a PR team won't help him. He’s already too polarizing in this city. To me unless he says "Go eff yourself Chitown", you can't take anything he says to the media too seriously; he's terrible at public speaking. This isn’t the first time he’s not spoken eloquently, yet there is still surprise and outrage. How do some of you keep falling for it? I Derrick is also keeping some of Chicago’s finest hacks (Telander, Cowley, Bernstein, Haugh, etc.) relevant. I do think Trestman and the Bears ought to thank Derrick for distracting some of the pitchforked masses.
    One poster named some players and provided good examples of playing through injury. But which of those players suffered major knee injuries in successive seasons, prior to their primes but right after showing so much promise as a multi all-star / MVP player? Does one honestly think that their psyches would still remain intact and brimming with confidence that they need to perform on the court? That life beyond basketball wouldn't cross their minds if they suffered the same? With the exception of MJ, I bet they would all be mentally affected by it. It is what it is, the injuries have made him and the org more cautious to make sure the minutes are meaningful later in the season when it really counts.

    Now this is a gem: "You would have NO LIFE WITHOUT BASKETBALL AND THE GOD GIVEN GIFTS DROSE HAS GOTTEN & CHOOSE #1 in the draft by your HOME TOWN TEAM...the team you dreamed of playing for on the roughest ghetto's of CHICAGO!"

    No shit...I'm positive he's fully aware of this. Of course he realizes that his elite talent is what made it possible to positively alter his and his family's lives for GENERATIONS. So what's the point of this statement here? Do some of you think you’re owed something, that he needs to be reminded of this? Oh, and I almost forgot the SAT references. I guess that wasn’t an issue when he was healthier and saying what you wanted to hear by playing the humble media narrative to a tee?

    Believe me I understand that it can be extremely frustrating for Bulls fans, especially the last 3 seasons with his injuries and his insular inner circle. Some of you may have forgotten when he kept coming back too soon from injuries the season he tore his ACL. Now after the meniscus tear he’s taking the opposite approach…cool with me…so who cares what he says! I’d much rather root for an imperfect athlete that’s not as “polished” based on public perceptions…(cough, LeBron, cough…1,2,3…4,5,6…blah).

  • I think it's a red herring to assume Butler's improvement is from a "better cast of players". Almost ALL of that production came WITHOUT Rose and Pau's offense is only incrementally higher than Boozer's.

    But you could tell from preseason this is NOT last year's Butler. Hitting 3's consistently (and no sign of that tampering off) makes him a true #2 - as you said, "elite."

    Butler/Thibs have given 3 reasons for the change: 1. Butler was hurt at the beginning of 2013-2014 and claims he was never physically able to heal to show his offensive floor skills. 2. He says he worked in the off season on his shooting. Just as Derek went from being a marginal shooter to a decent outside shooter from year 1 to year 2 - Butler has actually LEARNED offense moves he claims he didn't have before. 3. Thibs commented that for the first time - Butler has confidence in shooting. Butler said that also came from offseason. Stacey King mentioned that he doesn't hesitate anymore on 3's and it's obvious.

    As MJ will tell you CONFIDENCE is the single most important thing to a shooter. Aaron Brooks said this week that his offensive production has come from Thibs encouraging him to take - and that he can make - shots where former coaches were almost entirely critical.

    I think this IS Butler. It was insane to compare him to MJ on his 33 point comeback night, but what other player outside of Kobe has ever shown the kind of defense/offensive combo Jimmy's been showing thus far? (I'm not saying he is MJ for the record).

    I don't think it has much to do with who is on the floor with him. I think he's a rebuilt version who suddenly discovered he actually can shoot.

  • What has struck me about Jimmy this season is how self-assured he is with the basketball. There have been some many times where he has been the one dribbling the ball up the court and taking real control of the offense. Especially when he's been out there with the second team. He really feels like a primary scoring option (well, he might be 1-C to Brooks' 1-A and Taj's 1-B), and I have confidence in him with the ball, which I've never had before. I completely agree with the prior poster that he has more confidence than ever before and that's making a big difference.

  • I'm shocked that everyone cares so much about what Rose said. I dismissed them the minute that I heard them as stupid comments from a stupid person who basically has no idea what he is saying. As I said above he is simply parrotting whoever is in his head at this particular moment. It doesn't change anything about how or when he plays.

    As for Butler, he was clearly injured worse than any of us was aware of for all of last season. In addition to being healthy, he came into this season a few lbs lighter which seems to have helped him. He looked really bad athletically most of last season, he played heavy legged and below the rim. He said that he spent a lot of time studying film of MJ and Kobe's work in the mid range game this past off season and it seems to be working so far.

    I don't think that he will ever be an elite, go to offensive player on his own. His game will always be somewhat predicated on the talent around him. If he continues to play the way that he has to start this season he will certainly get overpaid next season. Its too bad that he wasn't restricted this past offseason, we could have gotten him on a good deal, probably much closer to his true worth.

    If its true that he would have signed for 4 yrs/$48 million then the Bulls probably made a mistake given the seemingly sudden new economic realities. He is either our second or third most important part right now(hardest to replace), behind Rose and right there with Noah. Not sure what the max is for Jimmy, but it sounds like $3-4 million more per year than 4yrs/$48 million, so that is not a trivial amount.

    It seems that ever since he started playing regularly we've been debating if he was worth more or less than Taj. Obviously the market has moved from when Taj signed, but I wonder where we are on that argument now. It seems that as a bonafide starter, and being quite a bit younger he is now worth more than Taj. Is he worth twice as much, which is about what a max offer would be? Is he worth as much as Klay Thompson, or is that argument even relevant in a salary cap world?

  • I've been quite critical of Taj Gibson's performance of late, specifically his effort on D and on the boards.

    I just saw an article on Bulls.com about the Bulls and Taj's participation in an early Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless. Taj has participated every year since his rookie season when Luol Deng got him involved. I want to commend him for his efforts in this regard, and hope that participating reminds him of why we liked him from his early days. Stay humble and hungry(not literally) Taj.

  • Big way,

    Couple of things. On your Rose comments,

    My take is he is an athlete who, let's say didn't quite get a lot out of his college days. If he also didn't get a lot out of his HS days, maybe he just isn't smart. Communications is a skill, and like any skill, can be hard to master. Add in just maybe, his personal advisors are NOT spending a lot of time improving this skill. I just feel sorry for him in a way.

    On your Butler comments,

    Stacy Kings says, SPEED KILLS. I say, SO DOES LACK OF IT. If we are not gonna pay Butler, and we let him go FOR WHATEVER REASONS., we'll probably be Dead in the Water as soon as we play one of those Speed Teams in a 7-game series. We better enjoy the year, and we better do a hell of a job replacing him.

    Comments???

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Is Butler really that fast? I don['t know that he is, but he certainly is the team's only real perimeter defensive option, which means they can't really afford to lose him.

  • In reply to Roman F:

    He's pretty fast compared to other teams' players. Really fast compared to OURS. Think about it!

  • In reply to Roman F:

    I agree with you, it seems to me that Butler's pure athleticism is over rated by many people, he really more of a physical/strength type of player. Butler himself has said that he is not that good of an athlete relative to NBA athletes. Whatever he is, he is the only one of those that we have, and we need that, so you are right we really can't afford to lose him. But we are likely to not be too happy about what it costs to retain him.

  • What Jimmy has done is remarkable. He's was the team leader of the offense when Rose was out and he looked like an all star doing it. I disagree that he cannot create his own offense. He takes guys off the dribble and gets to the rim or gets to the line.That is creating his own offense. The unassisted kind. Hell, I think he is still the team leader on offense right now. If we get this Jimmy all year, we have an all star and a max player on our hands. We have to pay him. I think if the Bulls make a deep playoff run they will pay him and not lose him.

  • I've thought for a while now that these Bulls need one big stroke of quasi-luck, and I mean on top of Rose staying healthy through the playoffs. I felt the stroke of luck they needed could be any number of things; a big trade(yea right), a superstar FA acquisition(stop laughing), maybe Mirotic develops into a borderline all star at a rapid pace, McDermott same, etc. Well, it would seem I see two prospective candidates in Pau Gasol and Jimmy Butler. Pau's contributions on the offensive end have been incredible, and while he's slow and hard to watch on chased rebounds, he still makes impact plays on the defensive end with his size and coordination. He's a big plus in the locker room for a team that needs it when you've got Derrick Rose, the worse PR mind in history doing the one thing he's worst at, speaking in sentences that include more than 5 words. Noah is the ultimate leader, especially for getting energy out of his teammates; but in an 82 game +playoffs season its nice to have a different voice coming from another respected leader who leads as effectively as Noah, but in a contrasting manner and with a different tone. Doesn't matter how much you love someone, shit can get old after a while and its nice to mix things up a bit(married and divorced men shake their heads). Pau's contributions thus far are a turn of fortune for the Bulls, relative to both the expectations and even more so his salary. Jimmy on the other hand, is the number one candidate to push us over the top; I'm just shocked quite frankly by his performance 9 games in. There isn't much to say, I wouldn't have gone above 12 million if I were the Bulls either(shout out to RW, the Bulls don't always overlove their players), but like the Bulls, I'd match whatever offer he receives in the offseason if he can stay relatively close to the pace he's set thus far. Our future hangs by a thread, or really Derrick Rose's anterior crucial thread, but assuming Rose is healthy we'll still need the kind of better than predicted play from some others to win that elusive title. Hell, even Jordan got to have Pippen pop up out of nowhere, Arkansas; a 5th overall pick sure but still, I'd definitely argue that a franchise would be remiss if they told you they expect any player they pick 5th or even higher to turn into a Scottie Pippen. Here's to hoping Jimmy gets the max offer this coming Summer, as it will likely mean he's completed an entire season with all star caliber play.

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