Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler has reiterated that it is his intention to remain with the franchise beyond the summer when he hits free agency.
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Butler will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but he has made it clear from the outset that he has no intention of leaving the Bulls.
The NBA’s Most Improved Player for 2015 has emerged as a max-deal player this season after adding offensive numbers to his already impressive defensive skills.
While he will feel attached to Chicago and thankful to the coaching team for helping him develop his game, it doesn’t mean that it will stop rival teams from at least enquiring and making a move.
The Bulls remain in pole position to secure his long-term future, and on the basis of his comments on Saturday, it sounds likely that he will continue to play at the United Center beyond this season.
“This is a place for me. I love playing with the guys that we have,” he said, according to USA Today.
“They continue to bring in great, high character guys that fit the team role. I love it here. I’m happy to be here.”
Butler could have signed with the Bulls for four years in a deal worth $42m last summer, but he bet on himself to improve and earn a max contract. On the basis of his performances this year, he hasn’t certainly made that jump up.
However, he insisted that it was “a tie” rather than him winning the bet as ultimately both he and the Bulls have benefited from his improved play which took them to the No.3 seed in the Eastern Conference in the regular season.
Chicago got past the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs, and they are now tied 2-2 in the semi-finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.