Butler and the Bulls have until Oct. 31, the deadline for first-round picks heading into their fourth season, to come to terms. He will become a restricted free agent after the season if a deal cannot be agreed upon before the deadline.
“I think we’re going to figure it out,” Butler said prior to the Bulls' game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. “My main focus is now of all time is to get healthy. If you’re healthy, you’ll get paid anyway. That’s all I’m worried about it."
Has Butler ever wavered about wanting to be with the Bulls?
“No, no, no, no.This is definitely the city, the team I want to be on," Butler said. "At the end of the day, at the beginning of the day, I want to be a Chicago Bull for as long as possible.”
Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau commended Butler on how he’s dealt with the contract discussion.
“I think Jimmy’s handled it well,” Thibodeau said. “He’s allowing his agent to take care of the business side for him so we can lock into the basketball part of it. Jimmy has done a good job with that. I want him to continue on that path.”
Butler’s focus is getting back on the court. He sprained ligaments in his left thumb against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday and will miss his second consecutive game Friday because of the injury. He is scheduled to be re-evaluated next week and is uncertain for Wednesday's season opener.
“I don’t know,” Butler said regarding whether he’ll be ready for the season opener. “I really don’t. I wish I could tell you yes or no. I don’t want to lie. If I can, I definitely will. That’s for sure.”
Butler guaranteed he wouldn't rush back on the court. He learned his lesson last year when he felt he returned too soon from a turf toe issue.
“This time I want to make sure I’m 100 percent so I can make that same play with my left and not worry about my thumb,” said Butler, who has continued to run and use his right hand in practices.
However long Butler is out, it’ll be less than what he first thought when he saw the size of his thumb on Sunday.
“I was hoping I didn’t [need surgery,] but initially looking at it, I was like, man,” Butler said. “It swelled up so fast, but that was just all the blood that was in there. Yeah, I guess I was a little scared, but then they told me I wouldn’t need it (surgery), so that was a relief.”