Front office is poised to start damage control with Jimmy Butler

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Jimmy Butler wasn’t listening to his body Friday.

He has been ignoring it for quite some time.

Despite a sore foot, a sore knee and possibly torn ligaments in his left hand, Butler punched the clock for Game 6 against the Celtics.

The good news is that finally someone in the Bulls’ organization is ready to listen to him.

According to a front-office source, besides the normal exit interview with Butler at the end of the season, the Bulls already have reached out to have a separate sit-down to discuss their plans and to assure Butler that they’re fully committed to him.

It’s a step the organization has been hesitant to take the last few seasons.

The source indicated that vice president of basketball operations John Paxson would attend, but it was unclear if general manager Gar Forman also would be in attendance.

Either way, it might be the most proactive step they’ve taken with Butler since extending his contract two years ago, and it would go a long way toward mending a relationship that was headed in the wrong direction.

The Sun-Times reported this month that Butler was tired of seeing his name in trade rumors and was frustrated that the organization never appeared to be comfortable in committing to him.

Butler is savvy enough to know that even a public acknowledgement from Gar/Pax doesn’t mean some team can’t come along with a ridiculous offer and take him away, but he hasn’t appreciated the organization’s dismissive attitude.

The latest example occurred in February, when Paxson said in his trade-deadline news conference that ‘‘there are very few guys who you build around. This is a team game. You build with players. We are building with Jimmy right now.’’

That comment irked Butler. He let the organization know that he would do everything in his power to will the Bulls to the playoffs and prove that he’s the type of player you build around, not with.

The source indicated that Butler also has let the team know that he wants to stay in Chicago first and foremost.

“That’s his first, second and third choice,’’ the source said. “He’s told teammates the same thing.’’

But during the sit-down, Butler is expected to tell Paxson to pull the trigger on a deal if he doesn’t believe he’s that type of player or if he plans to let his name continue to float in trade rumors.

Thankfully for both sides, that option no longer appears to be in play.

NOTES: Rajon Rondo (fractured right thumb) went through some conditioning activity during the morning shootaround Friday, but he missed his fourth consecutive game. Isaiah Canaan started at point guard.

Cameron Payne, acquired at the trade deadline from the Thunder, was inactive again.

Dubbed the “point guard of the future’’ by Gar Forman, Payne was active for only one game in the series against the Celtics.

Follow me on Twitter@suntimes_hoops.



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