The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” doesn’t apply to Jimmy Butler, especially not after the Bulls’ lack of athleticism was on center stage during Thursday night’s 97-87 loss in Denver. Due to his turf-toe injury, Butler’s health status is currently a major source of concern to Bulls fans, as the third-year swingman has become regarded as not only a key component of the squad, but one of the better young wings in the league. Because of his emergence during the second half of last season and building upon that in the playoffs, he became a major object of affection for Bulls loyalists, becoming viewed as one of the franchise’s building blocks for the future, along with former league MVP Derrick Rose, All-Star center Joakim Noah and top reserve, all of whom are presently signed to multi-year contracts. It’s still extremely early in the regular season, but after all the buzz he received throughout last summer, it’s fair to wonder how much Jimmy Butler is worth to the Bulls. After all, if he’s going to be either Rose’s backcourt partner or a potential replacement for All-Star small forward Luol Deng—assuming the longest-tenured Bulls player doesn’t re-sign with the team next summer—and the likelihood of the front office capitalizing on an offseason in which they could revamp the roster indeed holds true, considering exactly how much it will take to retain the athletic, defensive-minded, hard-nosed and energetic wing is prudent. The organization clearly values his multi-faceted game and picked up the fourth-year option on his rookie contract late last month, ensuring he’ll remain in Chicago for the 2014-15 season. But Butler now has an increased profile around the league and is in a class of young wing players who can make an impact on both sides of the ball and will either hit the open market or receive long-term contract extensions to stay with their current teams next summer or in 2015. Butler would be eligible to receive a new deal July 1, but given the Bulls’ track record of waiting until the last minute to complete negotiations, nothing should be expected until next Halloween or so. However, given his rising stature, it’s prudent to already examine what kind of salary he could command on his second contract in comparison to his aforementioned peer group. That group includes: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio’s starting small forward and fellow member of the 2011 NBA Draft class; Golden State sharpshooter Klay Thompson, who was drafted the same year; Utah’s Gordon Hayward, a 2010 draftee who wasn’t given an extension this fall and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer; Indiana shooting guard Lance Stephenson, a 2010 second-round pick who will also hit the open market in July; Houston’s Chandler Parsons, a 2011 second-round pick in a unique situation; and New York’s Iman Shumpert, the recent subject of trade rumors.
A look ahead to Jimmy Butler's second contract
CSN Chicago | Nov 23