The Chicago Bulls pulled off one of the most surprising moves of last summer when they managed to sign free agent guard Dwyane Wade away from his longtime team, the Miami Heat. Wade would eventually join Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler on a revamped Bulls squad that struggled during the regular season but managed to give the first-seeded Boston Celtics all they could handle in the playoffs.
Now, the question is where do they go from here? The 27-year-old Butler is in his prime, but Rondo and Wade, 31 and 35 respectively, are both in the latter stages of their careers. It’s still not clear whether a lineup based around three perimeter players that aren’t known for their three-point shooting can work in today’s NBA.
Teams sag far off of Rondo, and while Wade is still effective at 35, he’s never averaged even one three per game. With more questions than answers, the Bulls will reportedly sit down with Wade and Butler soon to plan a strategy for the summer, according to K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Even if the Bulls reach an organizational consensus on a decision to trade Jimmy Butler, it’s possible, if not likely, the market won’t bear fruit and Butler will be retained. In that scenario, picking up Rajon Rondo’s $13.4 million option and filling in around the edges before major changes and salary-cap space in 2018 is a possible plan.
Wade and Butler are scheduled to meet with management in the coming weeks, seeking organizational clarity on direction. No organizational consensus on Butler’s future has been made, sources said.
Contractually, Wade has a player option worth just under $24 million for next season, while Rondo has a non-guaranteed deal for $13.4 million. After a challenging season, it was assumed the Bulls would waive Rondo rather than pay him but an impressive run in the playoffs may have changed that.
That said, the Bulls may still decide to shop Butler, who has two years and $33 million left on his contract plus a player option for one more year at almost $20 million. This is less than he is worth on the open market, which means that Butler would probably fetch quite a haul if the Bulls decide that the current group won’t be able to contend and they decide to rebuild.
Given their interest in Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Los Angeles Lakers get involved in any potential Butler talks along with a number of other teams. With Butler’s contract lasting at least two more seasons compared to George’s deal, which will most likely see him hit free agency next summer, teams may be willing to pay more for Butler than George. While they haven’t settled on a path just yet, the Bulls will be a team to watch this offseason.