Dwyane Wade may have helped set up Jimmy Butler for a big payday down the road.
Butler was named third-team All-NBA on Thursday, making the All-NBA team for the first time in his six seasons. Butler's scoring average has increased every year. He won the Most Improved Player Award in 2014-15, earned an Olympic gold medal last summer and was voted an all-star starter this season.
The thing is, Butler played shooting guard the last two seasons. When Wade arrived, Butler slid over to the small forward. It's a minor move on the court, but in reality it was easier for Butler to make All-NBA at forward because the guard position is loaded.
Here's how the All-NBA teams played out: The first-team forwards were LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard; with Kevin Durant and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo on the second team; followed by Golden State's Draymond Green and Butler on the third team.
At guard, Houston's James Harden and Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook were first team; two-time MVP Steph Curry and Boston's Isaiah Thomas second team; with Toronto's DeMar DeRozan and Washington's John Wall on the third team.
If Butler played guard this season, would he have made the team? Both Washington and Toronto finished with better records than the Bulls, so there's a good chance he wouldn't have made the cut.
At center, New Orleans' Anthony Davis was on the first team, Utah's Rudy Gobert on second, and the Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan barely edged out Minnesota's Karl Anthony Towns and Memphis' Marc Gasol to get the last spot.
There weren't any close calls at forward. Butler got 19 second-team votes and 45 for third-team. Butler easily outpaced Indiana's Paul George and Utah's Gordon Hayward for the final forward slot.
Where this could pay off for Butler is in his next contract negotiation. The NBA's new Collective Bargaining Agreement created a "designated player exception," allowing teams to give their biggest stars a supermax contract.
If Butler makes an All-NBA team for a second time, or wins the MVP award next season, he'll be eligible for a five-year extension worth 35 percent of the salary cap, with 7.5 percent yearly raises. If those requirements are not meant, players can get a starting salary of 30 percent of the salary cap with 4.5 percent raises.
Butler can opt out of the final year of his contract in 2019. The value of the salary cap is dependent on league revenues, but it is expected to flatten out after two years of big increases. By making another all-NBA team, Butler should be eligible for a contract extension worth just over $200 million over five years.
Then again, the Bulls don't have to offer that much. The designated player exception can be given only by the team that drafts a player, so in theory the Bulls can never be outbid for Butler's services.
Would the Bulls trade Butler because they don't want to pay him such a big salary? Maybe, but plenty can happen in the next year or two. It's too soon to tell how this might effect Butler and the Bulls.
George and Hayward missing out on the designated player exception could be more significant, since there is talk of Indiana trading George based on the fear of losing him in free-agency next year. Hayward can opt out and become a free agent this summer.
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