When you earn a max contract worth close to $100 million, it gives you the right as a player to believe that you're elite in some ways.
Jimmy Butler has worked his way from junior college reserve to a max deal and respect from his NBA peers. That max deal now has Butler believing he’s the leader of the Bulls locker room as well, according to ESPN’s Nick Friedell.
I don’t think that the tension between Jimmy and Derrick was ever as bad as it was made out to be. But the tension now, moving forward off the Derrick talk for a second, between Jimmy and other players in that locker room is bad.
Because you can’t just say, “I signed this new deal. I’m the leader.” That respect has to be earned over time. Nobody is questioning Jimmy’s work ethic. He’s worked his tail off. But they are questioning whether Jimmy can be the leader that this group needs with so much turmoil going on around them.
You talk to anybody within that Bulls organization, and they’ll tell you that Jimmy has changed. His personality has changed.
And it’s not to say he’s wrong in that.
Butler is averaging 21 points per game on the season, but technically hasn’t been the Bulls player long enough to earn such a right. His contract shouldn’t give him top billing in that locker room over Joakim Noah, whose been the Bulls' heart for close to a decade.
The same goes for Rose in regards to his standing as well.
He’s really rubbed some people the wrong way with how he’s going about things. So, it’s something to watch for, and it’s something that I know is on the minds of the front office in that, “Can we trust this guy to go out and to be who we need him to be every night, and can he lead us the way that a championship-caliber team needs to be led?” And early on, the returns have been no.
This may not end well, and it won’t be Butler getting shipped out of town when it’s all said and done.