Earlier in the week, there rumblings from Yahoo Sports basketball mind Adrian Wojnarowski about Jimmy Butler leaning towards a short-term deal. According to the report, it seems that the restricted free-agent shooting guard is eyeballing a much better payday down the road.
In the next offseason, the 2016-17 season, it will mark the first year of a huge television deal between the NBA and ESPN, ABC, and TNT. The terms are reported to net the league close to $2.6 billion per year over a nine-year span. It will result in every team having a large amount of salary flexibility to spend on roster decisions. Some players will get overpaid. Other players, such as LeBron James, will begin to get market-valued contracts that they are worth.
One of the biggest winners of the salary cap increase will be center/forward Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. He hits restricted free-agency next offseason.
Players such as James, Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant, and others have positioned themselves to cash in on the new television deal. Jimmy Butler is primed to do the same thing.
Simply become a consistent performer on offense, i.e. average 15 points a game, was all that the Chicago Bulls were hoping out of him. It led to their initial offer of a four-year, $48 million deal prior to last season.
The Bulls foresaw Butler as a strong defender who could provide just enough offense to keep opponents honest. By the end of the season, Jimmy Butler had NBA All-Star, second-team All-Defense, and Most Improved Player added to his list of accomplishments. Most importantly, he had become the go-to scorer on a team with Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol as additional options. Scoring numbers surpassed the expected 15 points. Jimmy Butler finished the year averaging over 20 points a game. That number actually increased in the playoffs when he put up just under 23 points.
The former 30th pick of the NBA Draft knew what he could bring to the table. An improved jump shot and handle showed clear signs of offseason work his game enhancement. Now it is time for an encore performance.
That performance has turned into something bigger for him. It has thrust him into the spotlight and into the national conscious. Are the Chicago Bulls ready for Jimmy Butler the “Superstar”?
During the NBA Finals, Butler was seen hanging out with Jimmy Kimmel, and they were doing a lot of different things. First came the bad tweet joke that Butler read live on Kimmel’s pre-game show just before the NBA Finals, then a fun dunk tank competition was the follow-up.
It has introduced him to the casual fans who may not follow the Chicago Bulls. It is yet an additional bit of cache for him to stake his claim at justifying big money.
If Jimmy Butler is indeed looking to bet on himself, it is a wise move. He has all of the work ethic needed to keep raising his ceiling.
[Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images]