Welcome to the first weekly Boiling Pot article, where I take a look at some of the hottest topics among the NBA causing controversy among either the league, or just a specific team. These articles are going to be just as the names suggests: boiling pots. Controversial opinions are something that are necessary in the wonderful world of journalism, which is arguably one giant pot of boiling water. People get up-in-arms when other people, or fans in our case, suggest or believe in something different. Rather than soaking the opinion in and considering a thought other than their own, often times said people immediately retort said opinion and in low situations, resort to insults and personal attacks. While I doubt that will happen with this series, it's always fun to tackle a topic that you know has a near 50/50 split opinion on. With the first installation of the Boiling Pot, I will be tackling the topic of the Chicago Bulls backcourt, and moreover what to do with them.
Yesterday, highly-respected Chicago Tribune Bulls beatwriter K.C. Johnson released an article suggesting that the Bulls make trading either of their backcourt starters [Jimmy Butler or Derrick Rose] an offseason priority. While he also suggested that they could focus on unlocking the potential of their partnership, we are obviously more intrigued by the former rather than the latter. It is clear that something should be done with the Bulls, who shockingly missed the playoffs this season. Let's take a look at the potential trading one of their backcourt cornerstones.
Derrick Rose is on the final year of the original 5-year, $94,314,380 contract, with his 2016-17 cap hit amounting to $21,323,252. It is worth noting that Rose's contract also holds a 15% trade kicker. Jimmy Butler will be heading into the second year of his 5-year, $92,339,878 contract, with his 2016-17 cap hit amount to $17,552,209. It is worth noting that Butler's contract holds a $4.6 million signing bonus, 5% trade kicker and 2019 player option. Combined, the two of them will have a cap hit of $38,875,461 for the 2016-17 season. The Bulls currently possess roughly $23 million in cap space to use in the offseason to potentially bring back players like Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, or look into attracting other big named athletes.
On one hand, you can look into trading Derrick Rose, who's trade value isn't necessarily something to write home about. Last year, Rose notched an average of 16.4 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists while shooting an average of 42.7% from the field. The best thing about Rose last year was in 15 more games played from the previous season, he took 121 less threes and 334 more twos. Still, his play obvious doesn't warrant the over $21 million hit against the cap he has. On the other hand, you can look into trading Jimmy Butler, the 26 year old star shooting guard. There have been rumors circulating that Butler will be traded so the Bulls can potentially move up higher in the draft. Butler last year averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists while shooting an average of 45.5% from the field.
There's no denying that Rose & Butler did not play well consistently last year, as Johnson astutely pointed out. Getting outscored by their opponents while both players were on the court, the backcourt duo is functional, but barely at best. With both demanding the ball to play the way they need in an offensive system that requires optimal ball movement, both players have suggested working out together in the offseason to iron out any wrinkles in their partnership. Rose showed flashes of pre-surgery greatness last season, especially after the All-Star break. Butler improved on the already impressive season that won him the Most Improved Player award. The untapped potential between the backcourt running mates is something that may never be fully realized, a sad realization that the fans should wrap their heads around as the front office already has, as there is no untouchable currently on the Bulls roster.
With everything given, I've yet to really state my opinion on the matter. Trading either of them during this offseason should not be a priority; it shouldn't even be on the list of tasks needed to be completed. If they truly are intent on working out together and ironing out their differences (strictly basketball differences, as both have stated multiple times they have no issues with the other), the front office should see what they are made of and let them work it out. With $23 million in cap space, the Bulls have the opportunity to bring in a really good player (probably not someone warranting a max contract). Spitballing here, Harrison Barnes would be someone I'd keep my eye on if I were in the position of Gar Forman and John Paxson. Let these two start of the season next year together and if things are more of the same, you can look at trading one during the trade deadline and go into a full rebuild. The untapped potential between the two should be reason enough to not break up the tandem that hasn't even gotten close to scrapping their ceiling yet.