According to Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, Jimmy Butler is available for the right price.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 5, 2017
NBA fans probably remember the rumors of the Bulls trading Butler to Minnesota for a reunion with former coach Tom Thibodeau. Talks revolved around the fifth-overall pick in the draft, which turned out to be Kris Dunn. So far, it’s looking like a solid pass for a Bulls front office overseen by John Paxson. Butler’s name is now on the trade block again it seems.
Paxson has been with the organization since 2003, beginning as the general manager and having served as the vice president of basketball operations since 2009. The Bulls have made it out of the second round once in his tenure.
Chicago trading Butler signals the beginning of a rebuild. That’s fine, but they better get a king’s ransom to jumpstart the process. In a new CBA where Russell Westbrook will be grandfathered with the opportunity to stay in Oklahoma City for a five-year extension worth far more than $200M, Jimmy Butler’s final years of a cozy five-year, $95 million max extension begin to look like the best contract in the league moving forward. All that does is increase his trade value – or should.
This past NBA offseason was crazy. Front offices coast to coast lost their collective minds. Role players were commanding over $10 million per season. Timofey Mozgov received $64 million over four seasons from the Lakers after playing 27 total minutes in the Finals with Cleveland. It’s safe to say that free agents are overpaid, and they will only continue to get grossly overpaid with the new CBA soon kicking in.
If this front office decides to set Jimmy Butler free, what exactly is fair value? Chicago is probably best served to load up on draft picks rather than using free-agency as a crutch and badly overpay their roster. So if they trade the talented and affordable Butler, they’re going to need an ample amount of first-round picks and young talent signed to team-friendly deals in return. There will be no shortage of suitors if he truly is available. However, a team giving the Bulls multiple first-round picks and a young player or two to build around to pair with their desire to add a superstar is a big question.
The other big question for Chicago is the tandem of Paxson and general manager Gar Forman overseeing the team’s potential rebuild. Recent rumors have put second-year head coach Fred Hoiberg on the hot seat, as well. Do the Chicago fans trust their front office to get more-than-fair value by trading their arguably best player since Michael Jordan? It is doubtful. The front office consistently has failed to go deep in the playoffs, land big-name free agents, draft well, and is on the fourth head coach of the Paxson tenure, so it’s not unreasonable for fans to have their doubts the front office can get a fair return for the team’s far-and-away best player.
Simply put, Jimmy Butler is a great player on a below-average team. Butler bet on himself to get a max contract. The team rewarded him by giving him that contract, but they haven’t rewarded him by surrounding him with talent to compete for championships.
It seems as though the Chicago Bulls are content with moving on from Jimmy Butler, and that’s OK because the front office doesn’t deserve to have him.