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Jimmy Butler is probably stuck with the Bulls, here are his options

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Butler will have a new contract with the Bulls, but how many years will it be?

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls restricted free agent Jimmy Butler has postponed meetings with a host of other teams after the Bulls offered a five-year, $90 million maximum contract, according to ESPN's Chris Broussard. Chicago also extended the standard one-year qualifying offer, worth $4.4 million.

Butler will now reportedly decide on the length of a new Bulls contract. He initially had meetings set up with the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks, but there's little point in taking them if he cannot easily leave Chicago. 

Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski recently reported that signing a three-year maximum offer sheet with a third-year player option with the Lakers was an intriguing option for Butler, but the Bulls eliminated that possibility by submitting a maximum qualifying offer. This requires that an offer sheet signed with another team must be at least three guaranteed years. It's the first time a team has ever taken advantage of this provision, which is essentially a declaration that they will pay a full five-year maximum contract should Butler want it.

While Chicago limited Butler's options with this move, the 2014-15 Most Improved Player of the Year still has several choices.

Take the five-year deal

Butler can go ahead and sign the five-year, $90 million, but this would lock him into a long contract through the duration of his prime. With the cap set to rise, this isn't the best move for him financially, although it gives him security.

4-year deal with opt-out with Bulls

Butler can negotiate a slightly shorter deal with the Bulls, such as a four-year max with a player option after three. This would be a nice compromise for both sides, as Chicago wouldn't have to worry about losing him for several seasons and he'd be able to take advantage of an increased cap in 2018.

Short deal with Bulls

Butler can sign a significantly shorter deal with the Bulls, allowing him to hit free agency sooner when the cap explodes. Perhaps a two-year deal with a player option for the third year, or even a one-year deal with a player option for the second. He could also sign a one-year deal with no player option that's above the $4.4 million qualifying.

However, Chicago doesn't have much incentive to do this when Butler has so little leverage.

Offer sheet with another team

Butler still can sign a three-year offer sheet with another team, but the Bulls would almost certainly match. The postponement of the other meetings is a sign this may not happen.

Take qualifying offer with Bulls

A bold move would be to take the one-year, $4.4 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 when the cap gets close to $90 million. Butler bet on himself last offseason. Would he take another gamble this summer? It's risky, but it cannot be ruled out.


All along, there was little reason to expect Butler to be in a different uniform next season. At this point, it's looking like he may not even flirt with any other teams. The only question that remains is how long his next deal will be in Chicago.