Who is the leader in the Chicago Bulls locker room? It used to be Joakim Noah, with Derrick Rose having quiet influence, but Jimmy Butler awkwardly tried to step into that role this season after signing his max contract extension. He rubbed a few Bulls’ players the wrong way, said Fred Hoiberg needed to “coach them harder,” and that combined with the losing and injuries led to a miserable season in Chicago.
In the wake of all that, GM Gar Forman was asked about the rumors Jimmy Butler could be traded and he said, “we have to explore all options.”
Not surprisingly, Butler didn’t like that, reports K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
That comment didn’t sit well with Butler, sources said, merely adding to his growing wariness regarding Forman that stems from Butler feeling slighted during failed negotiations on his rookie extension. Butler ultimately rejected the Bulls’ four-year, $44 million offer, won Most Improved Player honors for 2014-15 and signed a five-year, $92.3 million deal with a player option for the final season last July.
This doesn’t mean Butler is on the block.
But in the Bulls’ early organizational meetings to shape offseason strategy, little changed from the February trade deadline regarding Butler, sources said. That means it would take a significant offer involving at least one high-profile player and multiple first-round picks to pry him loose.
As Johnson notes, the Bulls prefer to build via the draft anyway.
Short of a “Godfather” offer that is not coming, the Bulls would be making a mistake trading Butler. Teams need elite talent to win in this league, and Butler is one of the better two-way players in the NBA. Has he liked the spotlight on him now? Sure. Does he have a lot to learn about how to lead a team? No doubt. But anyone who wants to trade him based on those things doesn’t know how to build a winning basketball team.
We will see this summer of the brain trust in Chicago knows how to build a winning basketball team.