Report: Jimmy Butler wants short-term contract, increasingly interested in signing offer sheet with Lakers

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Jimmy Butler said he wants to stay with the Bulls, and they want to keep him.

Which is good news – because it’s very difficult to see him starting next season elsewhere.

But the terms of Butler’s return to Chicago could get complicated during his upcoming restricted free agency.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

Chicago Bulls restricted free-agent guard Jimmy Butler has plans to pursue shorter-term offer sheets this summer, resisting the Bulls’ initial plans to offer him a five-year, maximum contract extension, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

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.

The Bulls will extend Butler a $4,433,683 qualifying offer, making him a restricted free agent and allowing Chicago to match any offer sheet he signs.

Typically, a restricted free agent must sign an offer sheet for at least two years (not counting option years). But the Bulls could require he signs offer sheets for at least three years (not counting counting option years) by extending him a maximum qualifying offer.

The maximum qualifying offer – which is extended in addition to the regular qualifying offer – is worth a max contract over five years with max 7.5% raises and no options. The exact amount won’t be determined until the July moratorium, but it projects to be worth about $91 million. Butler could accept that any time before Oct. 1.

Considering the Bulls reportedly planned to preemptively offer Butler a max contract without making him bring them an offer sheet, I expect them to extend a maximum qualifying offer.

If Chicago extends a maximum qualifying offer, Butler could get a deal shorter than three years only two ways:

1. Negotiating it with the Bulls.

2. Accepting the regular qualifying offer of $4,433,683 for one year.

Because No. 2 would cost Butler so much guaranteed money, that’s unlikely. Therefore, the Bulls have little incentive to negotiate a shorter contract. They want him long term.

However, because the salary cap is skyrocketing in the next couple years, it makes more sense now than ever for players in Butler’s situation to seek short-term deals – even if it’s the miniscule qualifying offer.

Here are the maximum amounts Butler projects to earn in the following scenarios:

  • Re-signs with the Bulls or accepts their maximum qualifying offer (red)
  • Accepts the qualifying offer and signs a four-year deal outside Chicago in 2016 (black)
  • Signs a two-year offer sheet matched by the Bulls and signs a four-year deal outside Chicago in 2017 (green)
  • Signs a three-year offer sheet matched by the Bulls and signs a four-year deal outside Chicago in 2018 (blue)

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Year Re-sign QO + four Two-year + four Three-year + four
2016 $15,856,500 $4,433,683 $15,856,500 $15,856,500
2017 $17,045,738 $21,031,721 $16,570,043 $16,570,043
2018 $18,234,975 $21,978,149 $25,521,639 $17,283,585
2019 $19,424,213 $22,924,576 $26,670,113 $28,357,377
2020 $20,613,450 $23,871,004 $27,818,587 $29,633,459
2021 $28,967,061 $30,909,541
2022 $32,185,623
Total $91,174,875 $94,239,133 $112,436,882 $107,700,964
Average $18,234,975 $18,847,827 $23,567,324 $24,399,447

An italicized salary comes in the second contract of a scenario.

As a reminder, the scenario in green – signing a two-year offer sheet – would be unavailable to Butler if the Bulls extend a maximum qualifying offer.

But Chicago can’t stop him from taking the regular qualifying offer and hunting a max deal elsewhere in 2016. That projects to pay more over the next five years than a max contract signed this summer would – a powerful piece of leverage.

It’s also important to remember we’re headed toward a work stoppage in 2017. The Collective Bargaining Agreement will likely be rewritten then, and the rules that inform this projection could change. The potential reward for delaying a long-term deal is high, but so is the risk.

This summer offers much more certainty.

Just as when Butler-Lakers rumors came up before, it remains nearly impossible to see the Bulls not matching. If the Lakers or any other team signs Butler to an offer sheet, it will probably just be wasting three days and making life more difficult for Chicago.

The Bulls should focus on selling new coach Fred Hoiberg to Butler and easing tension between Butler and Derrick Rose. Making Butler happy could go a long way, whether it’s convincing him to re-sign on a long-term contractor pleasing him once he’s back on a matched offer sheet.

Either way, Butler almost certain returns to Chicago. It’s just a matter of how.

T.J. Warren still out for Nets; team to reassess status in November

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The Brooklyn Nets bet that the T.J. Warren from the bubble in Orlando — the one who averaged 26.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game for the Pacers — would re-emerge and give them a quality forward they could mix into a deep rotation.

Instead, so far it has looked more like the Warren who has played just four games since the bubble due to stress fractures in his foot.

Warren is improving and the Nets are bringing him along slowly, keeping him off the court until November at least, reports Brian Lewis of the New York Post.

Small forward T.J. Warren, who has missed nearly two full seasons following multiple foot surgeries, is “doing some shooting” and “a little bit more movement the last two weeks than he was prior,” Nash said. He added that Warren will be reassessed in about a month.

The Nets can afford to be patient. They have plenty of other questions to answer as a team before worrying about what Warren can or cannot contribute. But in the dream scenario where everything comes together for the Nets this season, Warren gets healthy and becomes a valuable contributor off the bench giving the Nets more versatility, scoring, and shooting along the front line.

For now, the Nets and Warren wait.

NBA returning to Seattle for exhibition game; when will it be more?

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SEATTLE — An NBA preseason game may not seem like a benchmark moment, even in a basketball-hungry city like Seattle, but Jamal Crawford believes there’s value even in an exhibition.

“It reignites a whole new generation of kids who need to see this,” said Crawford, a Seattle native who has been a basketball ambassador for the city through a 20-year NBA career and now with a pro-am that brings in NBA players every summer. “They need to be able to dream and know that it’s real.”

The NBA is making its latest brief return to the Emerald City. The Los Angeles Clippers will play the Portland Trail Blazers there on Monday night, the first time two NBA teams will meet in Seattle since 2018, when the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings played a preseason game. That was the last sporting event inside KeyArena before it was gutted and rebuilt into the gleaming Climate Pledge Arena.

There was a warm-up act of sorts Friday when the Clippers played Israeli team Maccabi Ra’anana in an exhibition, one where the most of the Clippers’ big names – Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall and Reggie Jackson – weren’t participating.

A sell-out crowd turned out for that Warriors-Kings game four years ago, the first one in Seattle since the beloved SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008 after 41 years in the Pacific Northwest. Another big crowd is expected Monday.

“The Sonics haven’t been a team since I’ve been in the NBA. So just to go play in Seattle is cool,” Blazers star Damian Lillard said. “We played in Vancouver a few years back. I think like two or three years ago, we had a preseason game at the (Memorial) Coliseum. So every time we get to do something like that, I always enjoy it because I wondered what was it like when it was a real thing, when the games were played in these different arenas. So I am excited to play in Seattle.”

Someday, possibly soon, the expectations are that Seattle will reclaim its place as an NBA town.

“It’s always been a great city to me,” Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said Friday. “It’s unfortunate that they lost their team and the team went to OKC. This city definitely deserves a team.”

Speculation is nonstop about when the NBA will choose to expand. Thanks to the resolution of its arena situation, Seattle seems likely to be at the forefront of those expansion talks, with Las Vegas likely right behind it.

But NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been noncommittal about a possible expansion timeline, and it seems likely those talks won’t pick up steam until the league deals with the new collective bargaining agreement and television deals that are on the horizon.

The community’s commitment has never been in question. The appetite of Seattle fans hasn’t waned in the years since the Sonics left and as the region became a hotbed for NBA talent, whether it was Crawford continuing to carry the banner for the city, to Zach LaVine of Renton, Washington, to this year’s No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, another Seattle native.

As if any reinforcement was needed, the summer provided a perfect example as fans camped overnight outside Crawford’s summer league venue for the chance to get inside and watch LeBron James make his first basketball visit to the city in more than a decade.

“Anyone that knows Seattle knows what a great basketball city we are,” Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell said this summer when the preseason game was announced.

The idea for having the Blazers and Clippers meet in Seattle was the result of a brainstorm between Lue and Blazers coach Chauncey Billups. The two close friends wanted their teams to meet in the preseason and Lue noted the owners for both teams are Seattle based: Steve Ballmer of the Clippers and Jody Allen for the Blazers.

“I haven’t been back since I played there in 2008, I think it was. So just to be able to go back there and you know, Mr. Ballmer and kind of see his offices and how he lives, and (Chauncey) to get a chance to see his owner, and then to be with my best friend, I thought it would be a great common ground,” Lue said.

Steven Adams inks two-year, $25.2 million extension with Grizzlies

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Steven Adams signed a two-year, $25.2 million contract extension with Memphis, which will keep him tied to the team through the 2024-25 season. ESPN’s Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news on Saturday.

Adams has been crucial to the Grizzlies’ recent success. He’s coming off his first season with the team, where he averaged career-highs in rebounds (10.0) and assists (3.4). He also helped them lock up the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference and make it to the Conference Semifinals, where they lost to the eventual-champion Warriors 4-2. Despite the improved numbers, a lot of his value is from intangibles that don’t show up in the box score.

Adams spent the first seven years of his career with the Thunder before being traded to New Orleans in the four-team deal that sent Jrue Holiday to Milwaukee. Adams was moved again to Memphis in a package for Jonas Valanciunas.

Adams has found a new home with a young Grizzlies team that is looking to win a championship. The team is built around Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane, but Jackson Jr. is expected to miss time after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left foot. Memphis will rely on Adams more than ever to begin the season.

Watch Curry, Klay in 3-point shooting contest in Japan. Yeah, they’re good at this.

NBA Japan Games Saturday Night
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The NBA went to Japan to promote the brand, play a few games in a huge market — Japan specifically but Asia as a whole — and put on a show.

Is there a better show than Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson draining 3s? Here they are in a 3-point contest during a basketball exhibition (there were some pro dunkers) in Tokyo on Saturday.

Stephen Curry, was there any other possible outcome?

It’s preseason and they are the defending champs — they should be having fun, playing with some joy.

Thompson took part in the shooting contest but is not playing in either of the exhibition games in Japan as the Warriors ease him back into play this season. It’s a marathon of a season and the Warriors need the best version of Klay starting in April, not October.