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Jimmy Butler, Bulls reportedly have ‘positive’ meeting

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Signs point to Butler staying and not much changing for 2017-18

NBA: Playoffs-Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler had a brief exit meeting with management in the immediate aftermath of the Bulls’ postseason loss to the Celtics, with plans made for more substantive discussions at a later date. That later date was Monday, as Butler and the Bulls met in Chicago after the star wing spent a bunch of time in Los Angeles (which featured an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel’s show).

The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson reports the meeting was “positive,” and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley says “both sides came out ‘very satisfied with the direction.’ Here’s more from Cowley:

‘‘Jimmy came away feeling appreciated and, more importantly, knows he’s not being shopped [on the trade market],’’ the source said.

Butler reiterated on Kimmel that he’d like to remain in Chicago. He’s owed an affordable $37.5 million over the next two years before he’s up for a $19.8 million player option in 2019. He’ll be eligible for the super-max designated player extension if he makes an All-NBA team in either of the next two seasons. That extension would be worth $246.4 million over five years.

Butler took his game to new heights in 2016-17 and is a player the Bulls should want to build around (although John Paxson has hesitated to say “build around” and has given some tepid praise), but their current level of mediocrity and that possible huge extension into his 30s are reasons to consider a trade and a full rebuild.

As of right now, though, it doesn’t look like a trade is in the cards. The Celtics aren’t expected to trade the No. 1 pick, and the Bulls don’t seem that interested in blowing it up, despite the current dominance of the Warriors and Cavaliers. Another team could come calling with a huge trade package that makes the Bulls think (Cowley said it’d have to be “stacked in the Bulls’ favor”), but I’m not counting on that at this point.

The most likely scenario appears to be the Bulls effectively running back most of last year’s team, with a few changes around the edges. They gushed about Rajon Rondo after the season, and it’s hard to see Dwyane Wade turning down nearly $24 million. If the plan is to keep Nikola Mirotic around (his cap hold is nearly $11 million), Chicago will have little cap space to make any kind of substantial move.

That sure doesn’t sound very appealing, but, hey, financial flexibility in 2018:

Since then, the Bulls signed Rajon Rondo and Wade in free agency. With management all but publicly guaranteeing Rondo's $13.4 million option for 2017-18 will be picked up and also preparing for Wade to exercise his $23.8 million option, the franchise appears poised to keep its financial flexibility intact for the summer of 2018.

Get excited.