While Jimmy Butler won the self-appointed leadership role unopposed, not everyone associated with the Bulls is a supporter.
One source told the Sun-Times that there are several players that often simply laugh when told of Butler’s latest thumping-of-the-chest leadership proclamations, and while Derrick Rose seems to be completely detached from the situation, his camp is very annoyed by all things Butler these days.
A veteran that is behind the Butler push, however? Well, it just so happens to be the one player in the locker room with two championship rings.
“I don’t mind those comments,’’ big man Pau Gasol said, when asked about Butler declaring himself the leader throughout this season. “I think those comments are positive. Those comments and attitudes don’t raise my eyebrows. I think it’s good certain guys want to take ownership and say, ‘Hey let’s go.’ ‘’
Gasol said that Butler worked his way into that role of leader, and was obviously paid like it this offseason, when the Bulls gave him a five-year, $92.3 million contract extension.
“I don’t disagree with it,’’ Gasol said. “I think Jimmy is obviously one of the main guys here.’’
He’s more than that. He’s the future. His deal is guaranteed through the first four years, with a player option of $19.8 million following the 2019-20 season.
Basically, last man standing of all the veterans on the roster.
Gasol has a player option at the end of this season, and there continues to be more whispers that he’s done with the Bulls experiment, while Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich and Aaron Brooks each come off the books when this season comes to an end.
Rose and Taj Gibson are free agents after next season, while the Bulls own the $5.175 million option on Mike Dunleavy for the 2017-18 season.
The likes of Gibson, Noah and Gasol might not even see the end of their current contracts, as several sources indicated that the Bulls are taking calls on all three players as the trade deadline draws near.
Noah’s value has taken a hit this week with a small tear in his left shoulder, and the center told reporters on Wednesday that he is looking at a two-to-four week window now. Not the best news for a player that was starting to look like his old self.
“Just going with the flow,’’ Noah said of the rehab process. “Just trying to get back out there as soon as I can.’’
What exactly will he be getting back to, however?
The Bulls have lost three-straight, have a 15-11 record, and are suddenly the newest circus in town, with the Butler-leadership drama just the latest evidence of that.
“There was some positives and some negatives to that situation,’’ Gasol said of Butler’s public opinions of coach Fred Hoiberg being too laid back. “It’s a good thing to say, at some point, enough is enough, something’s got to happen, something’s got to change, and you’ve got to say something and stir the pot a little bit. But some things also need to stay directed indoors and not be exposed outside.’’
Besides Gasol, what the Butler movement does have on its side are the young players. Doug McDermott, Tony Snell and Bobby Portis not only appreciate Butler’s work ethic, but the fact that he includes them in it.
Not only did Butler bring McDermott to his place in San Diego during the summer for Butler boot camp, but often calls the younger players up to meet at the Advocate Center for extra work with him.
A gesture Rose – the fading face of the franchise – rarely ever did.