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.

Nets reportedly sign Donta Hall for restart games in Orlando

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Donta Hall went undrafted out of Alabama last June, then made the most of the opportunities he was given. The 6’9″ big man tore up the G League for the Grand Rapids Drive, averaging 15.4 points a game on 66.9% shooting, plus gabbing 10.6 rebounds a night. It was good enough to get him a call up to the Pistons and getting in four games for them.

Now he’s going to play in the NBA restart for the Brooklyn Nets, a story broken by Marc Stein of the New York Times.

The shorthanded Nets are without big men DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, and Nicolas Claxton (Jarrett Allen was the only center on the roster). Donta Hall will get the chance to impress the Nets — and other teams — and try to earn a contract for next season (he will be a free agent when the Nets are eliminated).

Hall is a tremendous athlete, he’s bouncy and long (7’5″ wingspan). If his skills develop, he has a role in the NBA.

The Nets were hit hard by injuries and had to make substitute signings such as Jamal Crawford and Michael Beasley. Here is what the final Nets roster looks like in Orlando.

After four months off, first NBA teams practice in restart bubble

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Nikola Vucevic had to raise his voice a bit to answer a question. He had just walked off the court after the first Orlando Magic practice of the restart, and some of his teammates remained on the floor while engaged in a loud and enthusiastic shooting contest.

After four months, basketball was truly back.

Full-scale practices inside the NBA bubble at the Disney complex started Thursday, with the Magic — the first team to get into the campus earlier this week — becoming the first team formally back on the floor. By the close of business Thursday, all 22 teams participating in the restart were to be checked into their hotel and beginning their isolation from the rest of the world for what will be several weeks at least. And by Saturday, all teams should have practiced at least once.

“It’s great to be back after four months,” Vucevic said. “We all missed it.”

The last eight teams were coming in Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers among them. Lakers forward LeBron James lamented saying farewell to his family, and 76ers forward Joel Embiid — who raised some eyebrows earlier this week when he said he was “not a big fan of the idea” of restarting the season in a bubble — showed up for his team’s flight in what appeared to be a full hazmat suit.

“Just left the crib to head to the bubble. … Hated to leave the (hashtag)JamesGang,” James posted on Twitter.

Another last-day arrival at the Disney campus was the reigning NBA champion Toronto Raptors, who boarded buses for the two-hour drive from Naples, Florida — they’ve been there for about two weeks, training at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers — for the trip to the bubble. The buses were specially wrapped for the occasion, with the Raptors’ logo and the words “Black Lives Matter” displayed on the sides.

Brooklyn, Utah, Washington and Phoenix all were down to practice Thursday, along with the Magic. Denver was originally scheduled to, then pushed back its opening session to Friday. By Saturday, practices will be constant — 22 teams working out at various times in a window spanning 13 1/2 hours and spread out across seven different facilities.

Exhibition games begin July 22. Games restart again for real on July 30.

“It just felt good to be back on the floor,” said Brooklyn interim coach Jacque Vaughn, who took over for Kenny Atkinson less than a week before the March 11 suspension of the season because of the coronavirus. “I think that was the most exciting thing. We got a little conditioning underneath us. Didn’t go too hard after the quarantine, wanted to get guys to just run up and down a little bit and feel the ball again.”

Teams, for the most part, had to wait two days after arriving before they could get on the practice floor.

Many players have passed the time with video games; Miami center Meyers Leonard, with the Heat not practicing for the first time until Friday, has been giving fans glimpses of everything from his gaming setup to his room service order for his first dinner at Disney — replete with lobster bisque, a burger, chicken strips and some Coors Light to wash it all down.

The food has been a big talking point so far, especially after a handful of players turned to social media to share what got portrayed as less-than-superb meals during the brief quarantine period.

“For the most part, everything has been pretty good in my opinion,” Nets guard Joe Harris said. “They’ve done a good job taking care of us and making sure to accommodate us in every area as much as possible.”

Learning the campus has been another key for the first few days, and that process likely will continue for a while since teams will be using all sorts of different facilities while getting back into the practice routine.

“We have to make the best out of it,” Vucevic said. “You know, this is our job. We’re going to try to make the best out of it. I really think the NBA did the best they could to know make this as good as they can for us. And once we start playing, you’re not going to be thinking about the little things.”

Zion Williamson’s stepfather accused of taking $400,000 before Zion’s season at Duke

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ASSOCIATED PRESS — The legal fight over NBA rookie Zion Williamson’s endorsement potential now includes an allegation that his family received $400,000 from a marketing agency before his lone season for Duke.

Prime Sports Marketing and company president Gina Ford filed a lawsuit last summer in a Florida state court, accusing Williamson and the agency now representing him of breach of contract. That came a week after Williamson filed his own lawsuit in a North Carolina federal court to terminate a five-year contract with Prime Sports after moving to Creative Artists Agency LLC.

In court filings Thursday in North Carolina, Ford’s attorneys included a sworn affidavit from a California man who said the head of a Canadian-based firm called Maximum Management Group (MMG) told him he paid Williamson’s family for his commitment to sign with MMG once he left Duke for the NBA.

The documents include a marketing agreement signed by Williamson with MMG from May 2019, a December 2019 “letter of declaration” signed by Williamson and his stepfather agreeing to pay $500,000 to MMG president Slavko Duric for “repayment of a loan” from October 2018, and a copy of Williamson’s South Carolina driver’s license — which listed Williamson’s height as “284” and his weight as “6′06.”

In a statement to The Associated Press, Williamson attorney, Jeffrey S. Klein, said those documents were “fraudulent.”

“The alleged ‘agreements’ and driver’s license attached to these papers are fraudulent – and neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them,” Klein said. “We had previously alerted Ms. Ford’s lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as forgeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway.

“This is a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson at the very time he has the opportunity to live his dream of playing professional basketball.”

The affidavit is from Donald Kreiss, a self-described entrepreneur who worked with athletes and agents in marketing relationships. He had recently contacted Ford then provided the affidavit last week outlining interactions with MMG and Williamson’s family, according to one of the filings.

Ford’s attorneys have sought to focus on Williamson’s eligibility. His lawsuit stated that Prime Sports violated North Carolina’s sports agent law, both by failing to include disclaimers about the loss of eligibility when signing the contract and the fact neither Prime Sports nor Ford were registered with the state.

Ford’s attorneys have argued the Uniform Athlete Agents Act wouldn’t apply if Williamson was ineligible to play college basketball from the start.

Ford’s attorneys had sought to have last summer’s No. 1 overall NBA draft pick and New Orleans Pelicans rookie answer questions in Florida state court about whether he received improper benefits before playing for the Blue Devils. They had also raised questions about housing for Williamson’s family during his Duke career in a separate filing in North Carolina.

A Florida appeals court last month granted a stay to pause the proceedings there, shifting the focus to the North Carolina case.

Duke has repeatedly declined to comment on the case because it isn’t involved in the litigation, but issued a statement in January that school had reviewed Williamson’s eligibility previously and found no concerns.

Russell Westbrook, James Harden do not fly to Orlando with Rockets, will join team later

Russell Westbrook James Harden
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The Houston Rockets have landed in Orlando to be part of the NBA’s restart bubble.

Except for stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Neither was on the team’s charter flight from Houston, but both plan to join the team soon. Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the news, with the story confirmed by others soon after.

Just-signed Luc Mbah a Moute and assistant coach John Lucas also did not fly with the team and will catch up soon, reports Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.

Westbrook and Harden are not the only stars to delay their arrival in Orlando, the Clippers Kawhi Leonard did the same for personal reasons. The teams have agreed to this, but with limited practice time in the run-up to the eight seeding games, coaches want everyone in camp to work on rebuilding chemistry as fast as possible.

Coach Mike D’Antoni did fly with the team and was cleared to be in the bubble. D’Antoni, 69, was subject to extra consideration for entrance into the bubble by the NBA due to his age and the risk factors for people older than 65 with COVID-19.

The Rockets are one of the most interesting teams to watch in Orlando because of their all-in commitment to small ball — 6’5″ P.J. Tucker will play a lot of center. In the uncertain world of the NBA’s restart, that unconventional approach could get them upset wins. Or, they could get bounced early. There is no more high-variance team in Orlando than the Rockets.