Jimmy Butler declined the Timberwolves’ max extension because he’s supposed to

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Jimmy Butler set NBA — mainly Timberwolves — Twitter on fire when KSTP’s Darren Wolfson reported the All-Star wing declined a four-year, max contract extension in the $110 million range. And to the untrained eye, Friday’s news may be indication that Butler doesn’t want to re-sign in Minnesota after this season. But while that may end up being the case in the end, that’s not necessarily what this all means.

This is what he was supposed to do

Butler signed a five-year, $92.3 million max contract extension with the Bulls just before the 2015-16 season. His deal includes a player option on Year 5, which he can — and likely will —choose to decline to become a free agent, where he could re-sign with Minnesota or look for a new team to play for. The $110 million contract offer on the table is a huge chunk of money; an average of around $27.5 million per year. But by waiting until next summer to sign a contract, Butler increases his net worth dramatically.

If he waits until the 2019 free agency and re-signs with Minnesota, he could sign a five-year max contract extension worth $188 million. What would you do with that kind of money? And if he leaves to sign elsewhere, Butler would easily garner max contract consideration of four years worth $140 million.

The contract extension the Timberwolves offered was the most they could give him, but he will be eligible for a contract worth 30 percent of the salary cap next summer. Why would he pass that up?

This doesn’t mean he’s going to stay

Jimmy Butler strikes me as a smart, informed person, and the smart, informed decision to make here would be to opt out of his $19.8 million player option and secure a starting salary of $32.7 million. He can get that anywhere he goes. What the Timberwolves can offer is a fifth year that’ll pay $48 million. That’s a load of cash to leave on the table.

There have been rumors he and Kyrie Irving want to join up in New York, and both the Knicks and Nets will be in position to create cap space for two max free agents next summer. Butler liked an Instagram comment that suggested he team up with Irving on the Knicks next summer. That can’t sit well with Wolves fans, or any other fanbase that hoped it had a shot at his services.

But it doesn’t mean he’s leaving either. It just means he’s being smart and trying to secure the biggest bag he possibly can. If you were in his shoes, you’d do the same thing.





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