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Bulls Fri Oct 24 2014

Jimmy Butler Questionable for Bulls Season Opener

Chicago BullsJimmy Butler suffered a sprained left thumb against the Charlotte Hornets last Monday and will miss the last preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. Butler underwent an MRI exam and doesn't need surgery for the thumb. The Bulls will reevaluate his status for the season opener against the New York Knicks Oct. 29.

Before suffering the thumb injury, Butler was having a great preseason, leading the Bulls in scoring multiple games and showing off his improved offensive play. He averaged 15.8 points on 58.8 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds. This strong preseason start will surely pay off as Butler and the Bulls are in negotiations for an extension. The deadline will be Oct. 31. Butler will be entering his fourth season and the deadline is important so the Bulls can wrap him up and not take the risk of him becoming a restricted free agent next summer.

The Bulls could let Butler become a restricted free agent and just match the best offer from another team. This comes with a lot of risk though, as the price for Butler could reach a near-max level if he has a great season and the "wait-and-see approach" could cost the Bulls tens of millions of dollars. Butler is considered an elite perimeter defender by most scouts and was named to the NBA's All-Defensive Second Team last season.

The Celtics Avery Bradley signed a four-year contract extension this summer for $32 million. The starting offer for Butler will start at $8 million per season, but Butler is a better rebounder and playmaker than Bradley. He is also one of Thibodeau's favorite players and inherited Luol Deng's role of playing nearly 39 minutes a game.

The Bulls have to consider their own cap situation and know they won't have the cap room to sign a replacement for Butler if he leaves. The best bet is getting the extension done now and not waiting until next summer when another team will have a chance to offer a massive contract. Butler wants to stay with the Bulls and he's been playing lights-out before the minor set back with his thumb injury, but he will have a break-out season and show why he deserves that money.

 
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