With the Chicago Bulls potentially set to miss out on the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, there promises to be wholesale changes on the team’s roster should that become a reality within the next two weeks.
Both Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah are slated to become free agents. And in reality, it might be a safe bet that neither will return to the Bulls.
More than this, the team could very well be looking at splitting up the star-studded back-court duo of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.
The Vertical’s Chris Mannix reported as much just recently:
“I’ve been hearing rumblings that there is legitimate interest in Chicago in potentially dealing Jimmy Butler this offseason.”
It was also reported by Mannix on Wednesday that the Orlando Magic are the one team to keep a close eye on when it comes to Butler.
This would be a major about-face for a Bulls organization that was prepared to hand Butler the keys to the kingdom by signing him to a five-year, $92.3 million contract during the summer.
Much like the Bulls, Butler’s 2015-16 season has not gone according to plan. He’s missed 15 games to a knee injury on the year and has seen his game drop off a great deal since returning, averaging just 15.2 points while shooting 40 percent from the field in March.
Chicago’s current cast of characters might not be able to contend for a championship, but that’s hardly a representation of Butler’s value to the team.
Instead, it would make more sense for it to move on from Derrick Rose while continuing to build the roster around Butler.
The larger issue here could be Butler’s unwillingness to buy into Fred Hoiberg’s philosophy in his first year as the team’s head coach. There have been rumblings of frustration from Bulls players surrounding the rookie coach. That would likely have a role in reports suggesting Chicago is potentially looking to move Butler.
It’s also important to note that the 26-year-old Butler would net the best possible return of any player on the Bulls roster.
Butler is averaging a career high 21.0 points to go with 5.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists on the season. Chicago enters Thursday’s action two games out of the final playoff spot back east.