In The Declining Of An Extension, Butler Scores Big
If you happened to catch some of the playoff action amidst “putting one in the air” for 4/20, then you’d remember (actually chances are your short term memory prohibited you from such) that 4 year wingman, Jimmy Butler put the entire Chicago Bulls franchise on his back in game 2 vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. An altercation with O.J. Mayo became semi-aggressive in the first half, and it seemed to ignite a fire in Butler seldom seen. It’s all that was needed to wake up the beast as he dropped an impressive 31 points, 14 coming in a tight 4th quarter, giving the Bulls a 2 game lead headed into Milwaukee.
The Marquette alum is easily a front runner for the Most Improved Player of the year award, and it’s well deserved, considering he is pulling in career high numbers in points, assists, and rebounds. But all this didn’t just happen on a whim, as a matter of fact, he even declined a huge contract extension before this season started.
Right as the 2014-2015 NBA season took off, Butler was offered a four-year $40 million contract extension from the Bulls. In somewhat shocking fashion, he rejected the offer. This is something rarely seen by any player that isn’t considered a top tier of talent. At that time, Butler’s value was not near where it is today. Shooting 39% from the field and 28% from the arc is anything but ideal for a player coming into his contract year, especially when you consider the injury woes Jimmy’s dealt with throughout his career.
Turning down an extension coming into the last year of a contract says the player is willing to take the intimidating risk of avoiding career-threatening injury that will dramatically cut his salary, and most importantly, he’s betting on himself to have a breakout year and perform better than what a $10 million player a year would deserve. Fast-forward to the playoffs and BOY does Butler’s risk seem genius.
Butler has come into this season more focused than ever. He’s clearly become the Bulls’ most valuable player this season (thanks to D-Rose’s knees), dropping 20 points on a nightly basis, while consistently guarding the opposing team’s best player. It couldn’t have come at a better time for Chicago. With Rose’s uncertainty throughout the year, and the Bulls defensive minded style of play taking a toll on their creativity offensively, Butler’s play has been nothing short of a blessing for coach Tom Thibodeau.
So it seems like Butler’s overall play in the regular season, and now the post-season, warrants something more than a $10 million annual salary. Wouldn’t you agree?