With the NBA Summer League in full swing, the process of evaluating talent has begun right along with it. General managers and coaches have tough decisions to make regarding present and future players. The Bulls’ failure to re-sign Marco Belinelli and willingness to waive Rip Hamilton showed the confidence they have in Butler to be a solid player right away.
Butler proved he could handle such a role with his great play last year in the 2013 NBA Playoffs. With his tenacious perimeter defense, durability and acute decision making, Butler helped the injury-riddled Bulls make a run to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. In the playoffs, Butler averaged a staggering 40 minutes per game and shot 40 percent from the field and 43 percent from behind the arc, while guarding LeBron James on defense every Miami Heat possession.
Butler being named the starter puts a few rumors to rest, though. Rumors surfaced during the 2013 NBA Draft that the Bulls were considering trading Loul Deng to go after a LaMarcus Aldridge type of player. Many thought that Butler would be Deng’s replacement when he was drafted in 2011, but this move by Thibodeau proves otherwise. Ultimately, Bulls GM Gar Forman was being truthful when he expressed his interest in signing Deng to a contract extension and keeping the core of the team together.
The move puts the Bulls back on track to compete again this year in the Eastern Conference. With Derrick Rose coming back 100 percent healthy, the Bulls starting lineup will be solid again. The support of great bench players like Kirk Hinrich and Tony Snell will add more scoring and hard team defense.