Back in the day when the Chicago Bulls let go of Jimmy Butler, the potential price tag of his contract appears to be the reason why they didn’t re-sign him.
Former Chicago Bulls star shooting guard/small forward Jimmy Butler is one of the hottest names around the NBA at the moment. “Jimmy G. Buckets” is leading the five-seed Miami Heat to take on superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis and the top-seeded (out of the Western Conference) Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Finals Game 1 tips off between the Heat and Lakers on Sep. 30 at 8 p.m. CT.
Butler pushed the Heat to be the surprise team in the Eastern Conference side of the playoff bracket this year. They only lost three games in their first three rounds of the playoffs. Butler and the Heat swept the four-seed Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, and then pulled off the massive upset in five games in the second round against reigning back-to-back MVP forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and the top seeded Milwaukee Bucks.
Then the cherry on top for Butler and the Heat was a six-game series win in the Eastern Conference Finals over the three-seed Boston Celtics.
Butler is playing really well and forming one of the more potent star duos in the East with center Bam Adebayo. Jimmy got his fifth career All-Star selection this year, and Bam got his first. Both are having tremendous seasons, and the Heat definitely wouldn’t be where they are without them.
This is the first NBA Finals appearance in Butler’s career. The furthest he ever made it in the playoffs during his six year run with the Bulls was the second round. The lack of postseason success with Butler in Chicago was a big reason why the front office at the time thought it was best to trade him instead of building around him.
The potential max contract demands of Butler weren’t something that the previous front office regime reportedly (in a piece with Michael Lee of The Athletic published this week) felt was necessary to get this team back to the level of a title contender. That’s why they shipped him off to the Minnesota Timberwolves during the 2017 offseason.
The hindsight has to be 20/20 with how the trade between the Bulls and Timberwolves from 2017 is viewed now. They haven’t moved this rebuild forward much in its first three years, which is why all of the changes this offseason to the front office and coaching staff were enacted.
Butler is averaging more than 20 points per game in this playoff run to date, which is the second best mark of his career. He’ll be an underdog in the NBA Finals, but it’s impressive that he guided the Heat this far as is.