Jimmy Butler will be one of the most sought-after free agents this summer, and the soon-to-be restricted free agent has been spending his time off in Los Angeles. His intrigue with signing an offer sheet from the Lakers has "increased," according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. Butler is said to be interested in signing a short-term contract in preparation for the projected increase in the NBA's salary cap.
The Bulls are the only team that can offer Butler a five-year maximum-level contract. Chicago must make a qualifying-offer of $3 million to make Jimmy a restricted free agent, allowing the Bulls the opportunity to match any offer sheet he signs elsewhere. The minimum offer any team can make Butler as a restricted free agent must span at least three seasons, though that's still much shorter-term than a full five-year deal with the Bulls. It's even trickier if the Bulls make a maximum-level qualifying offer (five-years, maximum salary), teams can only offer him a three-year contract with no options on the third year.
He's also the same player who turned down a four-year, $40 million extension from Chicago, betting on himself to increase his value before heading into restricted free agency. Butler was named the NBA' Most Improved Player and was selected as an All-Star reserve, validating his confidence. He's 24 and might be willing to make the same kind of leap to take his services elsewhere. The Bulls are transitioning to a new head coach in Fred Hoiberg, and there have been reports that he and Derrick Rose are having difficulties co-existing on the court together.
Chicago has every reason to match any offer sheet made to Butler, so it would have to Butler pushing back and trying to force his way to the Lakers for this to pan out. A sign-and-trade deal could be the bridge for this dream to ever make it to reality, but compensation wouldn't be cheap for the Bulls to relinquish control of a player the caliber of Butler. Jimmy could also decide to accept the one-year qualifying offer and leave the Bulls in a position to lose him as an unrestricted free agent next summer. It will take the stars aligning to land Butler this summer, but "several teams" are still expected to pursue him, according to Wojnarowski:
As Butler spends time in Los Angeles this summer, a stretch that's included an overseas "Entourage" promotional jaunt with producer Mark Wahlberg, Butler's intrigue with signing a potential Los Angeles Lakers offer sheet has increased, league sources told Yahoo Sports.
Butler has preliminary plans to pursue meetings with several teams once free agency starts in July, sources said. Several teams pursuing Butler told Yahoo Sports that they're under the impression a short-term, max money offer sheet is the wisest way to approach Butler this summer.
Either way, it's an interesting situation to keep an eye on. One of the biggest needs on the Lakers' roster is at the wing positions, and Butler would be a huge free agent catch for Mitch Kupchak. The Lakers were said to be interested in Butler, and there's still a chance -- albeit a small one -- they can pry him away from Chicago.