Amidst what's been a disappointing season for the Chicago Bulls, there has continued to remain chatter around Jimmy Butler's future with the team. It has been something that Butler has had to address on many occasions, especially during the Bulls' extending period of struggles.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Jimmy Butler once again made it clear that he wants to stay on the team that drafted him nearly six years ago.
''I'm just playing basketball,'' Butler said.
''I don't make those decisions. I do what I would do for anybody, and that's to play hard, to help win. I always leave it at that."It has obviously reached the point where Jimmy Butler has had enough of hearing the constant dialogue about what the organization will do with him. Despite that, Butler has been level-headed throughout the process with his focus primarily on the task of getting the Bulls to the playoffs and possibly further than that.
''Whatever happens, happens, man. But right now I want to win. I want to win in these playoffs for this organization. Then whenever that time comes, we'll handle that then.''
Jimmy Butler has endured a public airing of the team's dysfunction in the regular season centered on the internal conflict between the younger players and veterans. This saw offseason additions Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade become key parts of those issues while going back and forth at each other through social media during an Instagram spat back in late January.
Prior to the trade deadline, there was also some serious talk about the Bulls going into full rebuild mode due to their struggles to stay afloat in the playoff picture. During this time, the Boston Celtics were one of the consistently mentioned landing spots for Jimmy Butler's services.
However, Jimmy Butler has shown a strong mental fortitude to push past that leading the Bulls to the playoffs earning the eighth seed on the final day of the regular season. In the last 10 games, Butler averaged 27.3 points on 51.0 percent shooting from the field with 6.8 assists and 6.1 rebounds while Chicago finished with a 7-3 record over that span.
During that stretch, the Bulls won seven of their last nine games that included two straight wins by at least 39 points in the final two contests, which was the first time in franchise history that the feat was accomplished in six seasons. Much of this was done without the services of Dwyane Wade, who was sidelined for several weeks due to a small fracture in his right elbow.
It capped off what was another strong season for Jimmy Butler, who led the team averaging a career-high 23.9 points with 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 1.9 steals. Butler's high level of offensive production made him the first player since Michael Jordan to average 20 or more points in three straight seasons.
Jimmy Butler also joined Jordan as the only players in Bulls' history to post multiple 50-point games in a single season. Butler also had 15 performances with 30 or more points, which places him with the second-highest amount in a single season since Jordan left trailing only Derrick Rose who had 23 such outings in the 2010-11 season.
Despite that, Jimmy Butler's future with the Bulls still appears to be up in the air. It's quite possible that much change could occur over the offseason with both Rondo and Wade's tenure also in question. Chicago had already considered parting ways from Rondo after his public barbs with Wade a few months ago.
As for Wade, he possesses a player option worth $23.8 million next year and could elect not to exercise it making him an unrestricted free agent this offseason. If the 35-year-old were to go that route, it would be viewed as a foregone conclusion that he will choose to sign elsewhere.
That said, the fate of Wade could have the largest impact on Jimmy Butler signaling that the front office is going forward with a rebuild of the team. In such scenario, there would be several teams interested in Butler such as the Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Ultimately, it looks to be a matter of time before all the attention shifts toward another offseason centered around Jimmy Butler's future.
[Featured Image by Chris Szagola/AP Images]