Jimmy Butler turned down the Bulls’ final offer of a contract extension before the Oct. 31 deadline, saying that he was choosing to “bet on himself” this season before becoming a restricted free agent next summer.
A day later, Butler said he won’t be chasing money elsewhere, and was somewhat emphatic in proclaiming that he intended to remain in Chicago.
“People say I’m chasing money when that’s not it — yeah, get your mic closer — that’s not it, because I’m going to be in Chicago,’’ Butler said Saturday. “I’m not worried about it. I say that with a smile on my face because I know that for a fact. We’ll resume [negotiations] in July.’’
The new TV deal has players and agents feeling as if the payroll is about to jump quickly. So rather than settle, Butler’s camp decided to weigh the odds and play the market.
“Yeah, [the deadline is] over with, but this is still home, these are still my guys,’’ Butler said. “This is the team I want to be on, this is the city I want to represent. So I’m happy, and I’ll be happy for a long time.’’
The new broadcast rights deal will see the salary cap jump significantly, though the money available may not hit all at once. Commissioner Adam Silver has discussed the possibility of a “smoothing” process where the cap increases more slowly in order to not have an unfair, severe effect on players who are able to negotiate free agent deals in the summer of 2016.
In Butler’s case, the money from the new rights deal won’t have kicked in yet next summer when it’s time to negotiate his deal. Projections can be made, of course, but the Bulls are already committed financially to Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson, with Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol each hitting free agency at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
If Butler truly wants to stay in Chicago, then all he has to do is ignore the other teams that come calling with offer sheets in excess of what the Bulls may be willing to pay — which may be no easy task.