Bulls position breakdowns: Guards — Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose have building animosity

SHARE Bulls position breakdowns: Guards — Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose have building animosity

Jimmy Butler’s heart is still in Tomball, Texas, population 11,000 and change.

But everything else about him went Hollywood sometime during the

2013-14 season, when he started a friendship with actor Mark Wahlberg. Soon after, he started realizing that simply playing on Derrick Rose’s team wasn’t an image he was willing to embrace.

During training camp last fall, former coach Tom Thibodeau and his staff privately had their concerns about Butler and Rose coexisting because of their alpha-male personalities. By midseason, tired of seeing Rose and Joakim Noah allowed to sit out certain practices and drills under the care of director of sports performance Jen Swanson, Butler’s animosity began building, sources said.

That was on full display by Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Butler stopped looking Rose’s way when given the ball, and Rose seemed to fade into being an angry bystander.

It’s no surprise, then, that Butler — a restricted free agent — is expected to make life as difficult as he can on the Bulls. He will look to negotiate a short-term deal that will get him to unrestricted free agency as quickly as possible, leaving the Bulls to decide whether they want to give him a maximum qualifying offer.

‘‘Jimmy’s the most confident guy [on this team], no doubt,’’ backup big man Taj Gibson said when asked late in the season about the ‘‘aw shucks’’ image that Butler likes to portray. ‘‘Don’t let him fool you. He’s full of confidence.’’

Welcome to the Bulls, Fred Hoiberg. Your first job will be to fix the relationship between Rose and Butler before it’s beyond repair.


Derrick Rose: His averages of 20.3 points and 6.5 assists during the playoffs were good to see. But his injury history and his more than $20 million-a-year contract make him more a payroll headache than an elite guard at this point.

Jimmy Butler: Pay the man! The Bulls have said they will match any offer he gets, and they need to. He has a skill set few shooting guards in the Eastern Conference can match.

Kirk Hinrich: With Carlos Boozer long gone, Hinrich seems to be the fans’ scapegoat for the Bulls’ troubles now. He has a $2.87 million player option, though, and doesn’t seem interested in retirement just yet.


Aaron Brooks: He was Nate Robinson Light during the regular season but just plain light during the playoffs. Expect the Bulls to shop for another veteran point guard this summer and to address the position in the draft.

E’Twaun Moore: He had a few shining moments during the regular season and the Bulls seem to like him, but it all will come down to payroll.


Guards from Rajon Rondo and Jeremy Lin to Louis Williams and Wesley Matthews will be on the move this summer, but what is financially realistic for the Bulls? Lin would be interesting in coach Fred Hoiberg’s offense, but not at the $14 million-plus he made this past season. A veteran such as Rodney Stuckey, who can do a little bit of everything, is more likely.


Jerian Grant would be a great fit as the point guard of the future, but he likely will be gone before the Bulls’ No. 22 overall pick. That leaves guards such as Rashad Vaughn, R.J. Hunter and Delon Wright. In any case, it’s time to have a backup plan for Derrick Rose.

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