A Royal Acquisition: Jimmy Butler


"Our ‘A Royal Acquisition’ series takes a look at pending free agents or potential trade targets that could make sense for the Sacramento Kings this offseason. These columns are meant to be speculative by nature. Some may have actual rumors and insider speculation behind them, and some may not. You’ve been warned. In this column, Rafe Wong takes a look at Chicago Bulls restricted free agent, Jimmy Butler."

Jimmy Butler      

Height: 6’7 Weight: 220

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The Player: Jimmy Butler caught the league by surprise this season. He has quickly developed into a sure fire All-Star, and one of the very best two way players in the NBA. What has made Butler such a valuable asset this season is his reliability on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.

For the majority of this season, the Bulls have given Butler the responsibility of guarding their opponents top offensive threats, and having him be their main man on offense.

As a result, he lead a hobbling Bulls team to the third seed in the Eastern Conference, and a berth to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Statistics: I don’t think anyone predicted that at the start of the season Butler would be displaying these kinds of numbers. At the end of the Bulls 82nd game, Butler’s final statline saw averages of 20 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per contest, all career highs for the Bulls small forward.

Butler was also a stud on defense. Like I mentioned before, Butler was responsible for guarding players like LeBron James, James Harden, and sometimes even point guards like Damian Lillard. Despite having to guard star players in a variety of positions, Butler still posted a 97.8 defensive rating.

Overall, Butler’s stats showed the immense improvement that he has made, and it has epitomized how big of a threat he is on both offense and defense.

The Acquisition: It would be great for the Kings to pick up a talent like Jimmy Butler, but the reality is that there seems to be no chance of that happening. This offseason Butler will become a restricted free agent, so he has some leeway in where he decides to go, but in the end Chicago has the final say. However, the main reason why Butler signing with Sacramento is an improbable scenario is because of cost.

Earlier this season Butler rejected a contract worth $11 million over 4 years by the Bulls in order to receive a better offer in the offseason. Although the Kings will gain cap room when players like Derrick Williams, Reggie Evans, and others become free agents, the Kings would probably have to clear substantial cap room to even make a legitimate offer.

I don’t think the front office is that daring to invest all their money in one player, especially when the team has a bevy of needs that have to be fulfilled. But hey, Kings fans have seen the front office make unorthodox moves in their recent past, so I’m giving the Kings a sliver of a chance that Butler actually does wear a Kings jersey next season.

The Fit: With a signing like Butler, it would definitely take the Kings another step closer to returning to the playoffs. The scenario I see making the most sense is Butler starting at the three, while Rudy Gay slides over to the four. The Kings then will have a frontcourt containing Butler, Gay, and DeMarcus Cousins, all of them having All-Star caliber talent.

Butler would also bring versatility to the Kings. On offense, I see Butler playing both as a small forward and shooting guard, while on defense he can guard positions 1-4. Overall, the acquisition of Butler would be both an extremely risky, but beneficial move by the Kings because of his versatility and level of efficiency on both sides of the court.

Final Thoughts: I think all Kings fans can agree that an addition like Jimmy Butler would greatly benefit this team. Butler is a lock-down defender and a solid scorer that can play virtually anywhere on the depth chart. These are all attributes that the Kings could use going forward.

Although it would be great to have the Bulls All-Star come to Sacramento, it’s extremely risky and unlikely. The level of improvement Butler showed this season will most likely have him getting offered a max contract. Whether the Kings can open enough cap room to offer that, I don’t know. But all can agree that a signing of Butler would help improve the Sacramento Kings, but create a bigger hole in their wallets.

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