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.

LeBron James, Doc Rivers, others around NBA react to, participate in protests

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The NBA family spoke out loudly and quickly in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer.

Protests have erupted nationwide following Floyd’s death, and the NBA family is commenting on — and in the case of some players, participating in — those protests. That includes the biggest name in the sport today, LeBron James.

Pistons’ coach Dwane Casey made a powerful statement recently, and on Sunday Doc Rivers released this statement through the Clippers.

A number of players have been involved in the protest, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Josh Okogie of the Timberwolves, who were with former NBA player Stephen Jackson — a childhood friend of Floyd’s — during a protest in Minnesota.

The Celtics’ Jaylen Brown drove 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to help lead a peaceful protest that started at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Park. He was joined by the Pacers’ Malcolm Brogdon.

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Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a brilliant op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times that talked about where the rage of the riots comes from in the black community.

“Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air.

“So, maybe the black community’s main concern right now isn’t whether protesters are standing three or six feet apart or whether a few desperate souls steal some T-shirts or even set a police station on fire, but whether their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers will be murdered by cops or wannabe cops just for going on a walk, a jog, a drive. Or whether being black means sheltering at home for the rest of their lives because the racism virus infecting the country is more deadly than COVID-19.”

And all this is just the tip of the iceberg of involvement of the NBA family, just like the protests are the tip of the iceberg of the frustration felt in black communities around the nation.

Jonas Valanciunas on return: “It’s kind of like coming back from the summer”

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Memphis is in when the NBA returns, and in whatever form it returns. The Grizzlies had earned the eighth seed in the West behind the standout play of rookie Ja Morant, and if the NBA goes with a play-in format for the final playoff seeds (as expected), there will be teams gunning for that slot.

Memphis’ veteran big man Jonas Valanciunas will be ready, he told Michael Wallace at the team’s official website. Valanciunas spent time in Memphis and Miami during the lockdown, checking in with family back in Lithuania, but is back in the gym getting up shots. He described the return process this way.

“It’s kind of like coming back from the summer. We’ve had two-and-a-half months off. But then again, I play with the (Lithuania) National Team every summer, so it’s not like you always have so much time off every summer. So it’s sort of like coming back and getting ready for training camp again, to get back in shape and into game rhythm. It’s unusual, with guys wearing masks and stuff, but it is sort of like getting yourself ready for training camp right now.

A lot of players feel the same way, that this was sort of like an offseason (just one where they couldn’t get in the gym and work on a specific skill or weakness). Now things are ramping up again. This is why players want a handful of games before the playoffs (or play-in tournament) start, to get their legs under them.

Memphis will have strong teams, and more veteran units, coming for their playoff spot in the form of Portland and New Orleans. Valanciunas says the Grizzlies will be ready.

We’re really motivated. We don’t need to find extra motivation. We’re young. We want to establish our names and build as a unit.

It’s going to be a unique format when the NBA returns, in what has been a season turned upside down. That, however, can be a bonding experience for this young Grizzlies team, something that makes them better faster.

Some NBA players reportedly expect families can’t come to Orlando until September

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Nothing is set in stone until the owners vote on Thursday, but the NBA’s return likely will have teams reporting to the “bubble” (or campus, or whatever term of art the league ends up using) in Orlando in mid-July. Games would start July 31 and run into late September and maybe even October.

For players, that’s a long time to be stuck in a hotel without seeing family or loved ones, so families joining the players has long been part of the plan. Except, now comes a note from Tim Reynolds at the AP that some players think their families may not be able to join them until deep into the postseason.

The smaller the bubble, the easier it is to maintain with extensive testing, which is why not all 30 teams are expected to be invited and the size of team traveling parties will be smaller. It has been expected that families wouldn’t be invited to join players at least until after the first round of the playoffs (when a lot of players left).

However, if games start July 31 and the league plans to play a couple of weeks of regular-season games, followed by a play-in tournament for the final playoff spot, then it will be September by the time the NBA gets to a final eight teams. Which will have players separated from their families for a couple of months.

It’s easy to understand the players’ frustrations with that. No matter what direction Adam Silver goes with this restart, there are going to be some unhappy teams and players.

 

Sixers head into playoffs with healthy Ben Simmons but new, untested starting five

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Philadelphia heads into the NBA’s restart — in whatever format it takes — as a team that, on the surface, benefits some from the break.

Ben Simmons was expected to return from his back issues in time for the playoffs, but it was going to be close, and he wouldn’t be fully rested and ready. Now, the All-Star is healthy and not the only player trying to shake off the rust from a long break. That’s 16.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.2 assists a game, and some strong defense back in the lineup.

But that lineup has never really fit together this season in Philadelphia, which is why heading into the restart playoffs the Sixers will have a new one.

Philly is expected to roll out a starting five of Simmons, Shake Milton, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson, and Tobias Harris, reports The Athletic’s Derek Bodner. That lineup has played zero minutes together this season (Milton hit his groove with the team late and by that point Embiid and Simmons were battling injuries). Learning chemistry on the fly in what will be, at best, a shortened and condensed regular season before the playoffs start, is a tough way to go.

It’s also the right move, Milton brings the shooting and floor spacing this roster needs. Philly had envisioned Al Horford as a floor-spacing four (who could spell Embiid at the five), but it hasn’t worked out. When Simmons, Embiid and Horford have been on the court this season, the team has scored less than a point per possession (defensively, they also gave up less than a point per possession, the Sixers basically played their opponents even in those minutes). It hasn’t meshed.

When Milton, Simmons, and Embiid have played together this season — in limited minutes and different situations than the one proposed — the offense has been only slightly better and the defense has been a mess. That’s likely not the case with Richardson and Harris on the court, but nobody knows exactly how this will work. It looks good on paper, but we’ve thought that all season about the 76ers.

Which makes Philadephia one of the most interesting teams to watch when games restart. All season long this team has not lived up to expectations (for which coach Brett Brown’s seat is very hot, even if blame for the roster issues should go higher up the ladder). Now comes a real test. If the 76ers suddenly get it together they become a real threat to the Bucks in the East (if the league keeps an East/West format). Or, this could be the latest Sixers lineup to fall short.

Either way, they become must-watch television.