Jimmy Butler is entering the 2014-15 season with something to prove.
The fourth-year forward is eligible for a contract extension and the Bulls have until Oct. 31 to come to an agreement on a deal, or Butler will become a restricted free agent next summer. General Manager Gar Forman said the team values Butler, but there is some uncertainty with how much that value can go up for Butler on a team where his touches are going to be limited because of the added depth on the offensive end.
Butler was promoted to the staring lineup last season and giving increased responsibility after the Bulls traded Luol Deng in January. His respect amongst opposing coaches and players grew last season as many considered him one of the league’s elite defenders on the wing. Offensively, he struggled and never got into any sort of a rhythm during the season or postseason .
In 67 games, he averaged 13.1 points on 39.7 percent shooting, as well as shooting just 28.3 percent from 3-pt range.
“I think I’ve shown some (of what I can do),” said Butler at Monday’s media day. “I think that there’s still a lot more that I have to show. All of that is obviously included in the whole contract extension thing. I just try to take care of it one day at a time and handle what I can handle.”
Butler averaged 10.3 shot attempts last season. With Derrick Rose being re-acclimated into the starting lineup, as well as Pau Gasol, those attempts will undoubtedly take dip, limiting his role on offense. To his credit, Butler doesn’t appear too concerned with his attempts or what his role in the offense will be.
“The important thing for Jimmy is to take care of what he can control, which is how he plays and I think winning helps build value,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. Following the first session of training camp. “The more we win, the higher his value is. He’s critical for our team. He’s got a great approach. We don’t want him to change.”
If Butler needs advice on dealing with going through negotiations up until the deadline, he can turn to teammate Taj Gibson, who was in a similar position to start the 2012-13 season. No matter what happens between now and Oct. 31, to Butler, his role remains as it has all along.
“To help win games,” he said. “No matter what I’m supposed to be doing on the floor, at the end of the day, I think everyone’s job is to win.
“We got a lot of good guys, a lot of great players and guys that have won at so many different levels. With all the pieces that we added it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be fun.”