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NBA Free Agency 2011: Chicago Bulls In The Lead For Caron Butler, According To Report

Free agent small forward Caron Butler met with the Chicago Bulls on Monday, and at this point the Bulls are the front-runner for his services, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. Butler also had meetings with the New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers this week, and the Nets are the only team that can offer Butler something beyond the $5 million per year mid-level exception.

However, it appears Butler is interested in joining a contender like the Bulls, even if it means taking a discount from the best available offer, and he has expressed a strong respect for Bulls' head coach Tom Thibodeau. The one interesting alternative suitor is the San Antonio Spurs, who recently used their amnesty clause on small forward Richard Jefferson and have targeted Butler to replace him.

Here is what SB Nation's Tom Ziller had to say about Butler in his free agency preview:

Butler remains a capable scorer, but should be limited to a bench role at this point (and paid accordingly). The saving grace of his pre-injury 2010-11 season in Dallas was that Rick Carlisle's offense is a bit difficult to grasp quickly; he seemed to be getting comfortable when he went down around New Year's. The Mavericks survived (and as such shouldn't prioritize re-signing him), but if he's healthy, teams could reasonably expect a Butler that is better than his numbers looked in 56 games with Dallas.

That said, he's pushing 32 and his three-point shooting last season (43 percent) screams "fluke!" when compared to his career (32 percent).

In his career, the 31-year old Butler has averaged 16.6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists a game.

For updates on free agent moves, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For in-depth coverage of the Bulls, visit Blog a Bull. For up-to-the-minute coverage of all of the key personnel moves, check out the SB Nation NBA free agency StorySteam.