Bulls’ Butler takes step toward super-max

Bulls swingman Jimmy Butler is in line for an even bigger payday.

The league announced Thursday that Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler was named to the All-NBA Third-Team. Butler had a great season. He averaged personal bests in points, rebounds, assists and steals. He was fourth-most minutes per game in the league.

In each of the past four seasons, he’s been in the top four in the NBA in minutes per game, leading the league in 2014-15. Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists in 76 games. This is Butler’s first career All-NBA selection. He became the first Bull to earn All-NBA honors since Pau Gasol was named to the second team following the 2014-15 season.

This award was not just given to Butler. The All-NBA selection is an amazing milestone for Butler’s career. He is just one more All-NBA selection away from qualifying for the designated player exception, a five-year super max extension.

Butler will become a free agent the summer of 2019, when he can decline a $19.6 million player option for 2019-20. Butler needs to make All-NBA once out of next two seasons to be eligible for designated player exception or super max.

According to the latest projections from The Vertical’s Shams Charania, the salary cap for the 2019-20 season, the first year of Butler’s new contract, will reach $120 million. A five-year deal for Butler would start at $42 million in the first year and be worth upwards of $245 million.

If Butler doesn’t qualify for the DPE by 2019, he would be eligible to sign a five-year extension worth a projected $199 million with the Bulls, or sign a four-year deal with another team that will be worth up to $155 million.

The Bulls will have some hard decisions to make on what they wanna do with Butler. If he makes the All-NBA team in one of the next two years, the Bulls will have to ask themselves in either 2018 or 2019 if paying Butler almost a quarter-billion dollars over the next five years is what they want to do. No matter how this goes, Butler has made himself a lot of money.