Apr 6, 2017; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) warms up before acton against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
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The Chicago Bulls have some decisions to make this summer, including what to do with Jimmy Butler.
The Chicago Bulls may have done many things wrong over the last several years, but one thing they certainly got right is drafting Jimmy Butler.
The No. 30 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Butler came out hot from a three-year stint at Marquette University. Having averaged 12.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.7 assists a game overall as a Golden Eagle, Butler was averaging 15.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.3 assists per matchup as a senior.
Those numbers ultimately stood out to the Bulls, and for good reason. Sure, the swingman had plenty of development left before him, but he had already proven himself as quite a player on both ends of the floor.
Now unfortunately, it took some time for Butler to adjust to the league. Perhaps Chicago simply did not utilize him properly, or maybe the Houston native was just slower than most on the uptake. Whatever the case, it was not until his third year with the Bulls that Butler’s potential finally started to show.
During the 2013-14 season, Butler saw an average of 38.7 minutes a contest, recording 13.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists.
Fast forward to 2016-17, and the 27-year-old has more than proven his worth.
Averaging 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists a game during the regular season, Butler was just as effective during the playoffs; he averaged 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in six games of Chicago’s first round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.
Jan 29, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) reacts while sitting on the bench against the Philadelphia 76ers during the first half at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Butler may have plenty more to give
There is a possibility that Butler has reached his ceiling. And that would be just fine. After all, many have already labeled him a top-20 player, some even top-10.
But since it did take him some time to reach this point, and still being so young, there is also the chance that he could continue to improve. Under the proper coaching staff. Alongside the right teammates. Being used in the correct way.
Jan 24, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) drives to the basket against the Orlando Magic during the second half at Amway Center. Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic 100-92. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Butler is a draw
The Bulls have always seemed to have a problem bringing in top dogs. Even with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah on the squad, they could never quite attract so-called A-listers. But clearly, that has changed. With both Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade hopping aboard last July, Chicago finally reached their goal of signing big-time players.
Mar 14, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson (22) talks to forward Jimmy Butler (21) against the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre. The Bulls beat the Raptors 109-107. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
The Bulls are terrible at trades
Is Butler tradeable? Absolutely. But should Chicago’s front office be trusted with said task? Absolutely not.
There is no denying how high the star’s trade value is right now. He had an excellent season, is clearly focused and is more motivated than ever to win. At 27 he has enough experience to be deemed a leader, but still comes with a pair of fresh legs. The Bulls could totally get a strong return for their asset.
But even if trading Butler was the right move, it is hard to say whether or not Chicago could make a worthy deal.
After all, they basically gave away Taj Gibson for free last year. Adding Doug McDermott and a draft pick was just salt to the wound.
What’s to say they would not be left with the short end of the stick in a Butler transaction? The only thing worse than carrying a heavy contract is dumping it for worse acquisitions.
The good news is vice president John Paxson recently came forward and said the Bulls were not shopping Butler. On the other hand, the only thing certain regarding the Chicago Bulls is that nothing is ever certain.