The Chicago Bulls have made it abundantly clear that they intend to bring back versatile scorer Jimmy Butler next season, but according to a new report out Sunday night, he may not be as eager to return to the Windy City.
According to a report from the L.A. Daily News, Butler wants to head out west to play for the Los Angeles Lakers:
“Chicago forward Jimmy Butler hopes to take his talents elsewhere and take advantage of the new television deal after his career year coincided with Tom Thibodeau’s firing and Derrick Rose’s chemistry issues. Althought Butler wants to sign a one-year deal with the Lakers, according to a league source familiar with his thinking, the Bulls are expected to match any offer for the restricted free agent.”
It had been assumed that the Bulls would give Butler a huge contract this offseason after the forward had a breakout season, but ever since the team was eliminated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the NBA Playoffs, rumors have swirled that Butler wanted a shorter term deal so that he could cash in after just a year or two as the league’s salary cap skyrockets thanks to a massive new television contract with Turner Sports and ESPN.
After Butler rolled the dice and declined to sign a new contract extension with the Bulls last season, he was rewarded with the best season of his career. He averaged 20 points and nearly six assists per game with the Bulls, and he continued to improve on the defensive end of the floor as he attracted the attention of numerous NBA teams that could him to an offer sheet this offseason.
The Lakers have been rumored to be the frontrunners to snatch Butler away from the Bulls, and his reported strife with Rose has only made those rumors gain steam. The two reportedly butted heads over who should be doing the bulk of the scoring during the postseason, with things coming to a head during the final throes of the Cleveland series.
Even if the Lakers sign Butler to a new contract, the Bulls have the right to simply match the deal and hold onto the star forward.