Bulls position breakdown: Jimmy Butler set for front office meeting

SHARE Bulls position breakdown: Jimmy Butler set for front office meeting
SHARE Bulls position breakdown: Jimmy Butler set for front office meeting

Jimmy Butler doesn’t need the Bulls’ front office to kneel before him and kiss his ring — although it might be a good starting point.

What Butler is looking for is a sound plan moving forward, transparency and some true appreciation, finally, for the player he’s become.

The days of vice president of basketball operations John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman letting Butler’s name blow freely in trade rumors, or Paxson describing Butler as a “piece’’ rather than acknowledging he’s the best all-around player to wear a Bulls uniform since Michael Jordan, may be behind him. After spending the last month in Los Angeles training, Butler made an appearance Thursday night on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!’’ and, according to a Bulls source, was expected back in Chicago this weekend for the first time since a brief exit meeting following the Bulls’ playoff elimination. The source indicated Butler will now have an extended meeting with Paxson — likely early this upcoming week — and is expected to finally hear what has been long overdue from his bosses.

Butler has always maintained a realistic view of his standing in the NBA and knows that if a ridiculous trade offer comes Paxson’s way, no player, including himself, is untouchable.

Until then, appeasing him shouldn’t be too much to ask — and would be the first step in solidifying the roster for 2017-18, according to the source. The Bulls have taken calls about Butler this offseason but aren’t making them. If Butler is still a Bull after the NBA draft on June 22, all indications are that Dwyane Wade will pick up his $23.8 million player option by the June 27 deadline, keeping him with Butler for another season. The Bulls are then expected to retain Rajon Rondo for $13.4 million.

It starts with Butler, though.

So let the kissing begin.

WHO’S COMING BACK

Butler: Gar/Pax moving on from Butler in his prime for unproven draft picks and upside would be organizational suicide. Then again, when there’s seemingly no fear of losing jobs . . .

Bobby Portis: The Bulls’ 2015 first-round pick showed some consistency from the outside and now needs to improve his athleticism and decision-making. Nikola Mirotic’s possible departure would be easier to handle if Portis takes another step forward.

Paul Zipser: He had a solid rookie campaign, especially for a second-round pick, but he needs to show he can again put the ball on the floor, and he must attack the rim with more consistency. Zipser’s defense was a pleasant surprise.

WHO COULD BE LEAVING

Nikola Mirotic: A restricted free agent, Mirotic wants to remain a Bull, but if the market inflates his value, don’t expect the Bulls to match the offer.

WHO’S OUT THERE

The list of potential free agents at the wing is impressive. The problem is that a big-name player in an offseason where dumb money has to be spent will price the Bulls out of most scenarios. Wade and Butler’s recruiting abilities will be challenged, and the best case — especially if Mirotic walks — would be a player such as Andre Iguodala, P.J. Tucker, Serge Ibaka or Ersan Ilyasova.

THE DRAFT

This is where the Bulls could realistically look to improve their depth at forward while also getting more athletic. Kansas’ Josh Jackson headlines the position but will be long gone by No. 16. The Bulls could have a shot at OG Anunoby, John Collins or Terrance Ferguson.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

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