Jimmy Butler won a bet on himself once already, turning down at least $40 million last fall to become a restricted free agent this summer. Now Butler will have to decide just how much money he's willing to risk to bet on himself once again.
On Monday, the Bulls extended Butler both the qualifying offer and the max qualifying offer, according to Eric Pincus. This means that Butler can accept a five-year deal from the Bulls worth approximately $90 million, or sign an offer sheet with another team that now must be for a minimum of three years. Or, if Butler doesn't want to be under contract in Chicago through the 2017-18 season, he can accept the one-year qualifying offer from the Bulls for $4 million next season, then become an unrestricted free agent the following summer.
The Hungarian Jordan already made a flow chart and posted it in the comments of an earlier thread:
There have been reports that Butler wants to play for the Lakers and/or get away from Derrick Rose, but the only way he can gain control of his immediate future is by turning down either $51 million for three years or $90 million for five years to make about $4 million next season. For a player who has made only ("only") $5.2 million in the first four years of his career, it's certainly a difficult decision.
Butler has battled a variety of injuries throughout his career. This season he endured a sprained thumb, a sprained elbow, a shoulder strain and an injured calf. During the 2013-14 season, he battled turf toe and bruised ribs.
If Butler does decide to play on the qualifying offer, like Greg Monroe did last season, it's going to create a lot of tension heading into next season. The Rose-Butler relationship will come under the microscope, the Lakers rumors will grow stronger and an All-Star who the Bulls drafted and developed could be out of the organization after only five years.
From the Bulls' perspective, either a three-year or five-year deal would be considered a win. It would mean he's either tied down through his age-28 season or his age-30 season. Of course, Butler and his representatives know the new TV money entering the league is going to make the salary cap skyrocket the next two offseasons.
Does Butler want to turn down money now to chase what could be a $200 million payday in a few years? Wojnarowski speculated a max deal could be worth $190 million in 2017, so it stands to reason there's potentially well over $200 million in guaranteed money awaiting Butler if he takes the three-year deal and keeps playing like an All-Star.
This is the biggest question mark facing the Bulls' future right now. So long as Butler decides not to play on the qualifying offer, Chicago can rest easy.