Ongoing tensions between the Chicago Bulls’ top scorer, Jimmy Butler, and point guard Derrick Rose may have played a role in the latter’s lackluster effort during Game 6 of the 2015 Eastern Conference semifinals, according to a report. Rose hit only 7 of 16 shots from the field for 14 points in the Cavaliers’ 94-73 victory last Thursday, which eliminated Chicago from the playoffs.
Rose’s lack of production, which included just four points over Game 6’s final three quarters, may have been the result of weeks of clashes between Rose and Butler over who would control the flow of the team’s offense, sources familiar with the situation told CBS Chicago’s Dan Bernstein. Apparently, the two stars have had difficulty sharing the basketball this season, when Butler led the Bulls in scoring while Rose battled a series of injuries.
“Sources describe a passive-aggressive reaction from Rose that was the culmination of tensions building in recent weeks with Butler’s emergence as a primary scorer. Butler is very aware that he won his bet on himself and is poised to reap the reward of a maximum contract from the Bulls … Butler’s emergence was validated by the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, and he’s now feeling every bit the star, with all that entails,” Bernstein wrote.
Butler, who will become a restricted free agent this offseason, had his finest-ever season in the final year of his contract with the Bulls. He led Chicago in points per game during both the regular season and the postseason, stepping into a leading role after Rose missed several weeks of action with a torn meniscus.
It will likely take a maximum contract offer to sign Butler this offseason. The Bulls have expressed interest in bringing him back to Chicago, but several other teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, are also prepared to pursue him, Pro Basketball Talk reported. Butler turned down the Bulls’ lucrative contract extension offer before the season in hopes that a strong campaign would allow him to secure a max deal. But he confirmed earlier this month that he plans to return to Chicago.
“This is a place for me. I love playing with the guys that we have,” Butler told USA Today Sports. “They continue to bring in great, high-character guys that fit the team role. I love it here. I’m happy to be here.”
Still, it’s unclear if a potential disagreement with Rose would affect Butler’s decision. Neither Rose nor Butler has commented on their rumored rift.