Jimmy Butler Contract Extension: D-Day


The scariest thing this Halloween isn’t some haunted house, the girl overly dressed up in the cubicle next to me, or whatever low-budget, unoriginal horror movie is hitting theatres tonight; the scariest thing this Halloween is that tonight marks the deadline to sign Jimmy Butler to a contract extension and the two sides still appear far apart.

As the deadline approaches, I’m reminded of Marc Stein’s article from earlier this fall about Mark Cuban and the Mav’s summer. In the article Cuban discusses how before signing Chandler Parsons to a 3 year $46 million deal he first held internal meetings with coaches and players explaining that Parsons’s contract was a reflection of the market and not how the team values players in comparison to one another.

"“I didn’t want any of them to think that valuations and prices reflected how we felt about new players versus how we felt about them. It was important for me to be inclusive with all of our guys so they knew what was going on. I explained to Monta that this is not how we value you relative to [Parsons]; it was just the price of poker. And he said: ‘I got you, Mark. I trust you. I understand what you’re saying.'” – Mark Cuban"

Two things to consider when discussing signing Butler to an extension is the current market for wings and the Bulls salary cap structure moving forward.

Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

In addition to Chandler Parsons’s $46 million dollar deal, Gordon Hayward signed a 4 year $60 million dollar deal. These deals average around $15 million dollars a year, with more and more teams having money to spend each summer, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where a team offers Butler a similar contract.

To pry Parsons away from Houston, Mark Cuban and the Mavericks offered him a player option for his third year (allowing Parsons to opt-out at the time of the new TV deal and likely higher cap) and a 15% trade kicker (if traded his contract grows 15%). It was nice to see someone stick it Houston with creative contracts after they out-smarted the Bulls during Omer Asik’s free agency. I’d expect similar contract nuances to appear in offer sheets extended to Butler if he reaches free agency. These stipulations would make life more difficult for the Bulls if they fail to sign Butler now.

Another point to consider is that the Bulls are projected to be above the salary cap next season with or without Butler. That means that if they were to let him go they’d only have the Mid-Level Exception (~$5.3 million) and veteran minimum contracts available to offer potential replacements. Salaries that won’t get you a player of Butler’s skill-level. This effectively leaves the Bulls with the option of Jimmy Butler or nobody.

Given these factors, I find myself very much in the crowd wanting the Bulls to sign Butler tonight, no matter the cost. Anything less than the max should be considered a bargain for the Bulls, the rising cost of wings is simple supply and demand. I feel better knowing someone as knowledgeable and insightful as Magic Johnson is in my corner on this:

All signs point to extending Butler being the Bulls’ best move. It’s important to remember that Jimmy’s salary isn’t a reflection of his worth verse the worth of other players on the team, but simply a reflection of the market. As Cuban stated, “this is just the price to play poker.” If the Bulls want to contend for a championship they’ll pony up.

Since I’m too old to collect candy from my neighbors I’ll be hoping my treat this Halloween is four more years of Jimmy Buckets, and that we’re not tricked once again by the front office’s frugality being more important than contending for a championship.