Chicago Bulls player Jimmy Butler stands to make millions more by turning down a $90 million offer

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler could be one the first NBA free agents to negotiate a short-term deal in order to capitalise on the league’s coming salary cap explosion.

Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski reports that Butler is expected to turn down a $US90 million max contract offer from the Bulls in order to position himself for more money in the long term.

In October, the NBA reached a new TV deal with TNT and ESPN. NBA teams will split $US2.66 billion per year under the new deal, up $US930 million under the old one.

As a result, the NBA salary cap is going to jump from $US67 million in 2015-16 to $US89 million in 2016-17, and only go up from there. If Butler signs, for example, a two-year deal with a team this summer, he’ll be a free agent again in 2017 and have a chance to sign a long-term deal under the new salary cap.

While there are obviously risks in signing a short-term deal (injury, declining play, etc.) the reward could be massive. Butler’s current max contract starts at 25% of the 2015-16 salary cap, which works out to around $US17 million. By 2017, his max contract will start at around $US27 million.

While Butler can only sign a five-year, $US90 million contract now, in three years he could potentially sign a five-year deal for $US190 million, Wojnarowski reports.

This wouldn’t be the first time Butler has bet on himself in hopes of winning big. During the exclusive contract negotiations window in October, he reportedly turned down the Bulls’ contract extension offer of four years and $US44 million — which at the time looked like a fair price for a player who had only just finished his first full year as a starter and shot below 40 per cent from the field, 28 per cent from behind the arc, and averaged only 13 points per game.

Butler, however, believed he was worth more and proved it. He went on to have the best season of his career by far, finishing with 20 points per game and shooting 46 per cent form the field and nearly 38 per cent from the three-point line, as well as being named to the All-Star team for the first time.

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