When you see Butler was offered just $40 million over four years, you understand why a deal didn’t get done. As Butler has improved to an All-Star level, that deal looks even further below what market rate will be for the guard as a restricted free agent this summer.
Make no mistake: Market rate is a max contract.
The Bulls already have $62,590,142 committed to Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson, Pau Gasol, Nikola Mirotic, Kirk Hinrich, Doug McDermott, Jimmy Butler, Tony Snell and Richard Hamilton’s cap hit for next season. Add four minimum salaries to fill out the roster, and Chicago falls just $14,320,754 short of the projected luxury-tax line. Butler’s projected max salary is $15,856,500.
Will that give another team room to sign Butler to a max offer sheet and steal him from Chicago?
Internally, the Bulls are planning to take a proactive approach to contract negotiations with Butler next July and secure the shooting guard for a long-term spot alongside Derrick Rose.
They fully expect to sign Butler to a max deal next July before another team even gets involved to tempt him with an offer sheet, which the CBA says they can after the moratorium ends. They accept that the size of Butler’s contract will put the Bulls in position to pay the luxury tax, something Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf says he will do for a championship contender his team is.
It’ll be interesting to see where the Bulls’ offer falls between the max they can pay him (projected to be $91,174,875 over five years) or the max another team can pay him ($67,707,255 over four years).
Here are how both contracts would look, with the most he could get by re-signing in red and by signing elsewhere in black:
Because Butler will be a restricted free agent this summer, the Bulls knew they could lowball him in contract-extension negotiations. That’s the time to try for a team-friendly contract.
They could always offer more in the offseason, and it seems that’s what they’ll do.