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Bulls to Bring Back Both Starting Wings with New Deals for Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy

In a league that now thrives on year-to-year upheaval and the thrill of free agency, the Bulls are at the top of the list for teams that value continuity, and this year is no different:

Marc Stein had reported this morning a deal was close, and it now appears to be finalized. Jimmy Butler announced himself as a true franchise cornerstone this past season, beefing up his offensive repertoire last summer through intensive hard work. Already one of the best defenders in the league (he slipped a bit with the added offensive burden, but played very well against LeBron James in their playoff series), he’s one of the top drivers to the hoop, adept at finishing, as well as drawing contact. His three-point shot also stopped being a liability, likely in part because his toe injury from the year prior had healed.

A restricted free agent after he declined Chicago’s offer that failed to anticipate both the market and Butler’s improvement, he famously “bet on himself” and won big with this deal. He had been debating taking a shorter contract to reach unrestricted free agency sooner, but the Bulls gave the maximum qualifying offer, which meant teams looking to sign him to an offer sheet had to provide three full years, ruling out a Chandler Parsons-esque deal that would allow Butler to opt out after just two years.

With that option off the board, Butler chose to maximize his money now, with the ability to opt out after the fourth year of the deal. He came into the league as an older player, so he’ll turn 26 before next season. That means he can test the market as an unrestricted free agent as he’s about to turn 30. Though Butler mostly enjoyed the insane minutes put on his odometer by former coach Tom Thibodeau, having a new coach in Fred Hoiberg and a lessened load should increase his chances at cashing in again down the line.

That news followed their other headline from this morning:

Dunleavy was expected to return to Chicago, and just as he did when he initially signed with them two summers ago, he agreed to a deal below his market value. He’ll turn 35 before next season, but a starting-caliber wing who’s tall, mobile and can shoot threes at about $5 million a year is a complete steal, especially as similar players are getting drastic raises in the new market.

The third-year partial guarantee makes sense for both sides, as it raises Dunleavy’s value in a sense (if the guarantee is say, $2 million, and he’s released at that point, the deal will be closer to 2/$12 rather than roughly 2/$10) and lowers Chicago’s cap figure for next year when they project to pay the tax, thus it saves them from getting charged from going over by an additional million or so.

The Bulls now have every rotation player from last year back in the fold, with the exception of Aaron Brooks, and the Bulls are expected to pursue a backup point guard with either the veteran’s minimum or the mini mid-level exception.

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