There was never a question of Jimmy Butler not signing with the Chicago Bulls. It was always about the length of his contract, and his feeling about playing alongside Derrick Rose. Signing a five-year deal says a little bit about both questions.
Butler signed a five year deal worth $95 million which gives him the option of opting out after four years. He’ll be turning 26 in September, so this is likely not the last big contract he’s going to land if his career continues to progress the way that it has.
Beyond the money, this is Butler showing his faith in the team’s ability to win with him playing a major part in it. Rumors suggesting Butler doesn’t want to be Derrick Rose’s sidekick seemed to make it as if he’s leaning towards leaving. Maybe he felt that way, maybe he didn’t. Maybe he figured out that no teams was going to offer him a max deal, and in any case the Bulls were going to match any offer.
So it this a championship move? The Bulls believed they had a championship team last season. They re-signed Mike Dunleavy which goes to show they believe in the pieces they had last year. Maybe it was all about the coach needing a change? Some players, Joakim Noah most of all, underperformed in the playoffs. Nikola Mirotic played injured. The offense, as it always has been under Tom Thibodeau, was inconsistent and shaky.
Butler is an All-Star, but he wants to be more. Derrick Rose, with all the injuries, is a superstar. The Bulls have a chance to put together the best backcourt in the NBA, if injuries don’t get in the way. Butler, who really didn’t look like anyone meaningful at the beginning of his career, just might be the most important piece in the championship puzzle the Bulls have been trying to put together for the past five years.