Bulls forward Jimmy Butler discusses his future in Chicago after the season-ending loss to the Celtics on Friday, April 28, 2017. (Teddy Greenstein/Chicago Tribune)
Jimmy Butler briefly stopped at the Advocate Center on Saturday and then, according to a team spokesperson, declined to meet with reporters.
There wasn’t much to add to what he said after Friday night’s season-ending defeat because Butler’s more substantive meeting with management will take place at a later, as yet unscheduled, date. That gives Butler time to decompress and management time to form a philosophy better on what surely will be a fluid offseason.
One date to keep in mind is May 16. That’s the NBA draft lottery. The Bulls aren’t in it, but the Celtics are, via them owning the Nets’ pick, which has the greatest odds of being No. 1.
How the table tennis balls bounce could play a factor on whether the Bulls and Celtics rekindle trade talks centered on Butler that were serious last June and much less so in February. Though management values Butler’s elite, two-way talent, the organizational alignment to get younger and more athletic remains. And Butler represents the Bulls’ biggest asset.
Plus, Butler could be due a five-year, $200 million-plus extension beginning in 2019-20 should he land on an All-NBA team and proceed toward a designated player exception. Thus, while it’s certainly possible, if not likely, that the Bulls won’t find equal trading value for Butler, they’re keeping all options open for now, sources said.
"We might be," Butler said late Friday when asked if the Bulls are close to contending. "I really can’t answer that for you. That’s whatever upstairs feels we need or don’t need. As a player, myself and everybody back in the locker room, we have to play and do our best to win games and represent this organization."
Photos of Bulls guard/forward Jimmy Butler.
To his credit, Butler praised the young core that played inconsistently throughout this season. And he endorsed the returns of both Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, the latter of which said his player option decision will be tied, at least in part, to Butler’s situation.
"Rondo has been huge for us this year, molding these young guys into the type of players they need to be on the floor and in the film room," Butler said. "The way he plays the game, getting everybody involved, I love playing with him. Him and D-Wade. But I don’t know what the future holds for anybody. I’ll sit back and wait on that time to come."
Butler actually represented the Bulls at the draft lottery last May, the first time the Bulls had landed there since overcoming ridiculous odds to get the No. 1 pick. They used that on Derrick Rose.
Butler has succeeded Rose as the franchise’s centerpiece. One year after management traded Rose, everybody waits to see if Butler stays in that role.