Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler has had a fantastic season this year, posting career highs in every major statistical category. Butler averaged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game during the regular season, and he’s extended that strong play into the playoffs, helping the Bulls knock off the upstart Milwaukee Bucks in the first-round and is currently getting the job done by doing a stellar defensive job on the best player in the world LeBron James.
Butler’s breakout regular season campaign landed him the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, and with such forceful two-way play this year, he’s headed towards a mammoth payday as well. Butler will hit restricted free agency this summer, and according to Shams Charania of RealGM.com, the Los Angeles Lakers are one of the many teams with their sights set on the defensive stalwart.
Outside of Chicago, teams are already preparing possible maximum-salary offer sheets for Butler in free agency, including the Los Angeles Lakers as one of several expected suitors, league sources told RealGM. Even Butler’s college area connection, the Milwaukee Bucks, will have cap space in July. Around the league, there’s a question: How will Chicago handle the inevitable max out of a star player not named Rose?
For now, Butler has made clear his desire, and the Bulls will assuredly match anything, anyway.
The Lakers are constantly linked to big-named free agents, but it’ll be interesting to see if anything comes to fruition here. Los Angeles is looking for any way to improve their barren roster, and majority of the time that has occurred for them via free agency. Butler would be a sensational addition for the Lakers, especially with current Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant looking to be headed towards retirement after this season. He’d give Los Angeles, one of the league’s worst defenses this past season, an intimidating defensive presence on the perimeter, and some established talent to pair with young-guns Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle.
Chicago however, will most likely match any offer Butler receives, as his play this season has definitely warranted a max-contract. Retaining Butler will surely be a top priority this summer, and a return to the Bulls should not be surprising at all.