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.

Report: Cavaliers players played songs like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone’ around John Beilein

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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While coaching the Cavaliers, John Beilein called his players “thugs.” He said it was a simple case of mispronouncing the word “slugs” while speaking too quickly.

Of the six Cleveland players who publicly addressed the issue the following day, only Tristan Thompson didn’t offer clear support of his coach. The Cavs kept Beilein.

But with Beilein resigning, a fuller picture is emerging.

Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:

a number of the players never really embraced his explanation. In fact, some of them thought it was an insult to their intelligence, one player told The Athletic.

“There was no coming back from that,” he said.

Instead, multiple players began playing songs that included the word “thug” whenever Beilein was within earshot, sources said: Bone Thugz-n-Harmony’s “Thuggish Ruggish Bone” and Tupac’s “Thugz Mansion” among them. As the team boarded the bus a few days after the incident, one player was intentionally playing Trick Daddy’s “I’m a Thug” with Beilein a few feet away. Other players blasted songs with the word “thug” loudly during workouts in the facility. Players did this to make light of a very tough situation, according to one team source.

“The worst part to me was not owning that he said it,” one player told The Athletic.

If they didn’t sing the lyrics as:

  • “It’s the Sluggish Ruggish Bone”
  • “So right before I sleep, dear God, what I’m askin’ / Remember this face, save me a place, in slug’s mansion”
  • “Baby, ‘cause I’m a slug”

…they did it wrong.

For what it’s worth, Beilein did own that he said “thugs.” He just claimed he meant to say “slugs.”

Want to question which word he intended to use? Suspicious about what in his mind led “thugs” to come out even if he meant to say “slugs”? That’s totally fair.

But either “slugs” or “thugs” was entirely plausible in that context. Nobody outside Beilein can know what he was thinking.

Cavaliers players just didn’t want to give benefit of the doubt to a coach they already loathed. I wouldn’t be surprised if some within the organization showed faux outrage about thugs-slugs just because they wanted Beilein gone.

The NBA has levels of pettiness Beilein never experienced in college. It can be jarring, and Beilein seemingly never got comfortable at this level. Put another way:

Slug passion got you tremblin’ like Death on the Row

Rumor: The Cavaliers might try to flip Andre Drummond in trade at draft, or in July

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When J.B. Bickerstaff takes over as the new coach in Cleveland today, he will inherit a big, slow frontcourt of Kevin Love and Andre Drummond that will make a combined $60 million next season.

Will he still have that frontcourt when training camp opens next fall?

We know the Cavaliers tried to trade Love at the deadline but the remaining three years, $91 million on his contract after this season made that difficult. Instead, Cleveland surprised the league when it added Drummond at the trade deadline.

Now comes a rumor from Greg Swartz at Bleacher Report where an anonymous former GM says he thinks once Drummond picks up the $28.8 million option on his contract — something expected around the league — the Cavs will try to trade him, too.

“I don’t think [Drummond and the Cavs] will last long,” one former NBA general manager said. “I could see them trading him to a team this summer if he agrees to pick up his option. They could also do a sign-and-trade if he agrees to a new long-term deal. I don’t think he’ll be in Cleveland for long.”

For the record, the Cavaliers deny that is the case. GM Koby Altman said as much.

“Absolutely, we consider him a potential long-term play,” Altman said. “Obviously, he has a player option that if he picks up, we think we’re in good shape in terms of our cap space. There’s no better money spent than on Andre Drummond if he picks up his option.”

There could be interest in Drummond as an expiring contract next season because teams are trying to clear up cap space for a deep summer of 2021 free agent class (particularly if Giannis Antetokounmpo does not sign the $254 million supermax contract the Bucks will offer this summer). There may be teams interested in the 26-year-old Drummond longer term — he is averaging 17.7 points and 15.8 rebounds a game as a traditional big — just not at anywhere near his current salary.

Expect a lot of Cavaliers trade rumors around the draft and into July as they try to add talent. Don’t be surprised if Drummond is in some of those rumors; the Cavaliers should explore everything.

Also, don’t be surprised if Love and Drummond are the starting 4/5 for the Cavaliers when the season tips off next October.

 

Counter-report: John Beilein will receive some of remaining salary from Cavaliers

Cavaliers coach John Beilein
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Initial reporting suggested John Beilein will walk away from the rest of his contract with the Cavaliers.

But apparently he’ll get a payout.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Beilein and the Cavaliers negotiated a financial settlement that will pay him a portion of the remaining money on his 2019-20 contract, league sources said. He left the University of Michigan and signed a five-year contract with Cleveland that included a team option for the final season, a deal that paid him more than $4 million a season, league sources said.

That doesn’t sound like a substantial settlement (relatively).

But Beilein had some leverage. Because he did so poorly, it seemed the Cavs might just fire him at the end of the season. While it appears to be his choice to walk away now, everyone seemed ready to move on soon enough.

There could have been more of a fired-or-quit standoff. But Beilein was so done, he left a lot of money on the table. That’s still the story, even if he’ll walk away with some.

Kevin Durant not close to return, but his jumper still looks wet

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Kevin Durant will not play an NBA game this season.

His jumper, however, looks to be in midseason form. Following All-Star Weekend, a video surfaced on Instagram of Durant working out at UCLA, and his shot remains a thing of beauty. His pull-up works, too.

There’s some debate around the league about just how good 31-year-old Durant will be when he returns.

When he left he was the best player on the planet, an unstoppable scorer who could defend LeBron James in the clutch of a game, KD was a two-time defending Finals MVP at the peak of his game. Suffering a torn Achilles means he’s not going to have the same level of explosiveness, but when you’re pushing 7-foot tall (in shoes), have a high release over your head, can hit from anywhere, and have a deadly fade away, does it matter if you lose half-a-step?

With Kyrie Irving possibly done for the season in Brooklyn, these videos provide a little hope to Nets fans. Get this roster healthy next season and they can hang with anyone in the East.