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Bulls’ Jimmy Butler needs to show he’s a reliable scorer

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler smiles during timeout second half an NBA basketball game against Milwaukee Bucks Chicago Friday April

Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler smiles during a timeout in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks in Chicago, Friday, April 4, 2014. The Bulls won 102-90. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski) ORG XMIT: CXA113

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Who’s departing

D.J. Augustin. The player who saved the Bulls’ season will have a chance to return if they don’t go the Carmelo Anthony route. But don’t be surprised to see a team overpay for the free agent.

Kirk Hinrich. If the veteran wants to return for a price tag near the veteran’s minimum, the Bulls would love to have him back.

Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer Fever hit the Chicago area quickly when he signed. The vaccination came when it was time for him to play defense.

Mike James. James is never really off the roster — he just takes time away in Houston before the next 10-day contract is faxed over.

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Updated: June 23, 2014 11:46AM



Jimmy Butler didn’t end the season in a happy place. The Bulls two-guard was downright disappointed with the way he was used in a five-game first-round playoff exit against the Washington Wizards.

According to one teammate, Butler was unhappy enough that he actually met with coach Tom Thibodeau after Game  2 and voiced his complaints.

It wasn’t about the 43.6 minutes per game he saw in the series but that he felt like he was being phased out of the offense, especially when the two-point-guard attack of Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin was on the floor.

Butler wants to be the defensive stopper that plays heavy minutes, which means his scoring is bound to suffer somewhat because of the physical style he plays defensively. That’s why it will be a huge offseason for him — he has to improve on a season in which he shot just 39 percent from the field and 28 percent from three-point range.

In the three games after his talk with Thibodeau, Butler averaged 15.7 points, almost three points higher than his regular-season average.

Want the ball more? Be more of a scorer when it gets in your hands.

WHO’S COMING BACK

Derrick Rose. When the Bulls gave Rose a five-year, $94.3 million contract extension, it was an investment in the future. So far, it’s a very bad one. Because of back-to-back season-ending knee injuries, Rose has played 10 games since the extension kicked in. Just over $34 million into it, Rose has made $6.8 million per win. Now the former MVP has three seasons to redeem himself, and it starts this summer, with the Bulls requesting that Rose be more present in Chicago as they plan to get him up and running to play with USA Basketball in July. The Bulls no longer need Rose back to his old self, especially with the core around him developing, but to have him actually in uniform and playing would be nice.

Jimmy Butler. The hardest-working man on the team needs to gain some offensive consistency, especially from outside.

Tony Snell. The rookie showed flashes, but the Bulls need him to work on getting stronger and improving his defense if he wants to be a consistent rotation player.

WHO’S DEPARTING

D.J. Augustin. The player who saved the Bulls’ season will have a chance to return if they don’t go the Carmelo Anthony route. But don’t be surprised to see a team overpay for the free agent.

Kirk Hinrich. If the veteran wants to return for a price tag near the veteran’s minimum, the Bulls would love to have him back.

Jimmer Fredette. Jimmer Fever hit the Chicago area quickly when he signed. The vaccination came when it was time for him to play defense.

Mike James. James is never really off the roster — he just takes time away in Houston before the next 10-day contract is faxed over.

WHAT’S OUT THERE

Plenty, especially if a team wants to open up the checkbook. If the Bulls can’t land Anthony and amnesty Carlos Boozer, a hard-nosed, versatile guard such as Lance Stephenson could be a perfect fit. If the Bulls want to stay defensive, Thabo Sefolosha is also a free agent.

POSSIBLE TARGETS: There’s a good chance Hinrich could be back, but the Bulls need scoring. Stephenson and Shaun Livingston both would be welcome additions.

THE DRAFT

Guards aplenty this year, especially at the top, where there are several franchise-changers. Even with the Bulls picking at Nos. 16 and 19 in the first round, Zach LaVine and Shabazz Napier are point guard possibilities, while shooting guards Rodney Hood and P.J. Hairston will be in play.

POSSIBLE DRAFT TARGETS: Grab a LaVine or a Hood and call it a day.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com

Twitter: @suntimes_hoops



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