Free agency is set to officially begin on July 1 and the Los Angeles Lakers are looking to make a major impact as they have the salary cap space to give at least one player a maximum contract. General Manager Mitch Kupchak has indicated that he intends to focus on the frontcourt, but there may be a wing player looking to come to Los Angeles.
According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News, Jimmy Butler is hoping for a one-year contract with the Lakers, though the Bulls are expected to match any offer he receives:
Lastly, Chicago forward Jimmy Butler hopes to take his talents elsewhere and take advantage of the new television deal after his career year coincided with Tom Thibodeau’s firing and Derrick Rose’s chemistry issues. Although Butler wants to sign a one-year deal with the Lakers, according to a league source familiar with his thinking, the Bulls are expected to match any offer for the restricted free agent.
This would be a major acquisition for the Lakers if they are able to pull it off. While he isn’t a big man, Butler would fill a major need at the small forward position. Last season, Butler posted career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, and field goal percentage while making his first All-Star team and winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award.
The good thing about possibly signing Butler is that his maximum deal is only in the $15 million range which would leave the Lakers enough room to pursue a mid-level center such as Robin Lopez or Kosta Koufos if they wanted.
As was noted in the report, however, the Bulls do intend to match any offers for Butler and that may scare off the Lakers as their cap space would be taken up for 72 hours while the Bulls decide to match. The best alternative for the Lakers could be Butler signing a one-year qualifying offer with the Bulls in order to hit unrestricted free agency next summer.[divide]