The Chicago Bulls missed the playoffs this season for the first time in eight years.
While there are plenty of people to blame for the Bulls’ shortcomings during the 2015-16 season, there is one player in particular that has been under a microscope after Chicago finished with a 42-40 record.
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Jimmy Butler’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors and there are questions as to whether or not he will return with the franchise in 2016-17. Vice President of Basketball Operations john paxson recently commented on the Bulls’ lack of quality leadership, even taking a veiled shot at Butler in the process:
“Here’s how I feel about the whole leadership thing: When you’re talking too much about leadership you’re probably not getting what you need from the team leaders. I played with the greatest player in the game (Michael Jordan) and you didn’t hear him talking about leadership. You heard him going out and showing leadership and showing that he was a winning player. I don’t think any of our guys need to talk about that anymore, about leadership. I think they need to show it.”
As some remember, Butler talked about how he needed to be a better leader as the Bulls were declining down the stretch. This was after proclaiming himself as the team leader earlier on in the season.
Considering the Bulls are just a year removed from being one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, it would be silly to panic and trade Butler. However, Chicago probably needs to find a veteran in free agency that can at least co-lead the Bulls along with Butler.
One thing is for certain—it will be a busy offseason for Paxson.