The Chicago Bulls not only submitted a regular qualifying offer to restricted free agent Jimmy Butler, but the Bulls also gave him a maximum qualifying offer:
The Chicago Bulls have given Jimmy Butler both a qualifying offer AND a max qualifying offer @BBallInsiders
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) June 29, 2015
This is significant and also unprecedented. No team has ever submitted a maximum qualifying offer to a player, but Chicago did it in this case because now Butler can’t sign an offer sheet shorter than three full seasons. There have been reports that Butler, who won Most Improved Player of the Year this past season, wanted to sign a three-year offer sheet with an opt-out after two years in order to take advantage of the exploding cap, and the Los Angeles Lakers were mentioned as a suitor.
There will now be several options on the table for Butler. The Bulls would surely love him to sign that max qualifying offer worth about $90 million over five years. But if Butler doesn’t want to be locked in for that long, perhaps there’s a compromise down to a shorter max deal. He could also still sign an offer sheet with the Lakers or another team, although Chicago would certainly match.
The bold play for Butler would be to take the one-year qualifying offer worth $4.43 million and then become an unrestricted free agent in 2016 when the cap makes its initial jump. A player of his caliber has never done such a thing, but there are rumblings of some issues with Derrick Rose, and perhaps Butler is upset with the firing of Tom Thibodeau. It would be pretty wild if Butler took the qualifying offer, but I wouldn’t completely rule it out, especially considering he bet on himself last offseason. Maybe he does it again.