Could Jimmy Butler Return “Home” To Milwaukee?


Batten down the hatches, Milwaukee Bucks fans, the NBA’s silly season is officially upon us. With the Bucks’ elimination from the Playoffs, it was only going to be a matter of time before all sorts of trade and free agency rumors cropped up. I just don’t think anybody expected Jimmy Butler‘s name to come into the mix.

That’s right, I’m talking about THAT Jimmy Butler, the bane of the Bucks in their recent Playoff series. They may only be whispers, and not based off a whole lot of concrete information right now, but the murmurings mentioning Butler’s name have officially begun and are likely to only pick up steam from here.

This is the off-season, these sort of stories can come out of nowhere and lead to all sorts of wild speculation, that in reality is nothing more than that, but this one was interesting enough to stop me in my tracks to think about it.

The source of the speculation came from what could potentially have been little more than a throwaway line in a recent piece analyzing Butler’s game by the excellent Shams Charania of RealGM.

For those of you not particularly active in the NBA Twitter-sphere, Charania has built up a reputation as one of the most reliable news sources the NBA has to offer, and all within a very short period of time.

NBA heavyweights like Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, and Marc Stein of ESPN have long been breaking news of deals around the Association, but in the madness of the most recent trade deadline, Charania’s was the name that provided a number of the biggest scoops, and helped to iron out and clarify the various complexities.

As a result, now when Charania speaks, people pay attention. This rumor may be proof that maybe people pay a little too much attention in fact.

In his piece on Butler, Charania wrote:

"Outside of Chicago, teams are already preparing possible maximum-salary offer sheets for Butler in free agency, including the Los Angeles Lakers as one of several expected suitors, league sources told RealGM. Even Butler’s college area connection, the Milwaukee Bucks, will have cap space in July."

There’s no stated intention of the Bucks making an offer, nothing even close to it, but there you go.

Even the Bucks.

I suppose part of the reason that people would get carried away by this is that Charania’s body of work has established him as someone who wouldn’t necessarily just throw out a name without careful consideration, and possibly a hint of something a little deeper.

What struck me most of all though is just how much sense this idea makes.

Sure, Butler has Marquette ties and for the romantics among you that might make this even a little bit more meaningful, but for his skills alone, shouldn’t the Bucks be giving the 25-year-old careful consideration anyway?

Butler is a restricted free agent, and you’d have to expect that the Bulls would match any deal for their young star in the making, but then again the Bulls haven’t historically been the most willing of franchises when it comes to splashing the cash, and anyway: this is the NBA. Strange things happen.

After an excellent season last year, everyone expected Chandler Parsons to re-sign with the Houston Rockets last summer, but the Dallas Mavericks put in an offer, tested the Rockets’ resolve, and with a gun against their head Houston decided to move in another direction, and the Mavericks got their man.

There are parallels between that situation and this one too.

The Bucks and Bulls are divisional rivals, as are the Mavericks and Rockets. So, if the worst comes to the worst, Milwaukee offers Butler a max contract, Chicago matches and they force their local rival into tying money up quick in the opening exchanges of free agency.

Then there’s the best case scenario.

The Bucks have their own restricted free agency scenario to worry about with Khris Middleton in the coming months, yet as good as Middleton is, Butler represents a big upgrade, and arguably better value too. I mean, which of those guys would you feel more comfortable with maxing out?

If Butler signed he’d instantly become the Bucks best player in the here and now, and if he rejected, Milwaukee would still have time to go back and match any potentially pending offer sheets to Middleton in order to retain his services.

Sure, that may not leave Middleton feeling as loved as he arguably deserves after such a stellar season, but this is a business. Players understand that, and even if it stings initially, they get over it. Need proof of that?

Look no further than Jeff Teague of the Atlanta Hawks. Teague signed an offer sheet with the Bucks a couple of summers ago frustrated by Atlanta’s apparent indifference towards him. The Hawks took stock of their options before coming back to match Milwaukee’s offer before it was too late.

Now, Jeff Teague is an All-Star point guard who has developed like nobody could quite have envisioned in Atlanta, and the Hawks are battling for a place in the Conference Finals.

Maybe, there’s something to the Marquette connection for Butler. You know, maybe his heartstrings could call him “home”.

At the moment, there’s nothing strong enough to lead us to believe that Jimmy Butler could possibly be a Buck, but what I’d ask you is: what reason is there that should stop the Bucks from trying?

Next: The Summer of Khris Middleton

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