Jimmy Butler Heads to Another ECF, Remember Max Strus? Yikes Harden, and Other Bulls Bullets

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Jimmy Butler Heads to Another ECF, Remember Max Strus? Yikes Harden, and Other Bulls Bullets

Chicago Bulls

It’s Friday the 13th, so if we can make it through the day without (1) a discouraging report about Zach LaVine’s free agency, and (2) some kind of annoying injury update on Lonzo Ball … I’ll consider it a success.

•   Jimmy Butler is headed back to the Eastern Conference Finals. I know he’s now played for three different squads since he left the Chicago Bulls in 2017, but it’s hard not to think about the past as we continue to watch him find success. Whether it be immediately leading the T-Wolves to a playoff appearance, helping Philly put together its best playoff series in decades, or ending up in the NBA Finals with Miami … wins follow Butler like a herd of baby ducklings. Sure, the personality has proven to be a lot to deal with at times, but the production has outweighed any hard-headedness.

•   Butler averaged 27.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists in his six games against Philly. He played roughly 38 minutes a night and shot 51.3 percent from the field. If we’re being honest, aside from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Butler has arguably been the best player in the postseason thus far. He’s only morphed into a more special player as the years have gone by, and it’s hard not to think about what could have been with the right front office in Chicago. The good news, though, is the Bulls franchise has a chance to redeem itself this summer.

•   Butler – who a handful believed wasn’t worth the hefty new contract and continued investment – netted Chicago Zach LaVine. Now, the Bulls have an opportunity to write their wrongs and move forward with a 2x All-Star who is just entering his prime. We can sit here and point out LaVine’s flaws and rant about why he isn’t at the level of others who make $200 million, but did we learn nothing from the Butler situation? You can’t let players that talented walk. At some point, you have to meet the league’s asking price and try to build a winner. If the goal is to wait for a two-way superstar, an organization could find itself in limbo for years on end (as we saw). The last thing Bulls fans should want is to see LaVine making max-money on a contender outside Chicago. Maybe LaVine won’t find that success … but maybe he will! Butler showed us it’s possible.

•   Speaking of former Bulls, do you think Artūras Karnišovas wishes he took a closer look at Max Strus? When the new front office came in, the Chicago Bulls had the former DePaul standout on a two-way contract. However, after a torn ACL, the team eventually chose to move on from Strus, who proceeded to sign with the Miami Heat in November of 2020. After marinating in Heat culture, Strus has become a pivotal part of the rotation. He played in 68 contests this season and has now started 11 of 11 playoff games for Miami. Alongside Butler and Co., the athletic wing is averaged 12.5 points and 4.4 rebounds with a 35.1 percent success rate behind the arc.

•   Should the Bulls actually kick themselves over not keeping Strus? Eh, probably not. I completely understand why it was a tough judgment call at the time, and I’m not sure even the Heat saw this kind of rise coming. But there is also no question Strus would have been a really nice role player to have on the roster this year. He checks a lot of the boxes this front office seems to want a the wing.

•   You the man, DeMarvelous.

•   I currently feel way better about handing LaVine a max contract than James Harden:

•   Imagine saying those words about two years ago.

•   Don’t scare me like that!

•   Good note:

Author: Elias Schuster

Elias Schuster is the Lead Bulls Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Schuster_Elias.