One would think that Jimmy Butler's rise to stardom this season was a good thing for the Chicago Bulls. The Most Improved Player averaged 20 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game (all career-highs). However, while Butler's emergence had Chicago two victories away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals, there may be some underlying tension in the Windy City that has nothing to do with Tom Thibodeau.

According to CBS Chicago, there were signs of stress on the relationship between Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler during the Cavaliers series that came full circle in Game 6:

It looked strange when wing Jimmy Butler kept flashing to Rose’s side of the floor, calling for the ball, as the Bulls’ offense was drying up. Rose was all too happy to oblige instead of waving Butler off and taking charge, either resetting the called play or taking his man – often the undrafted Matthew Dellavedova – hard to the rim for at least a likely foul.

Sources describe a passive-aggressive reaction from Rose that was the culmination of tensions building in recent weeks with Butler’s emergence as a primary scorer. Butler is very aware that he won his bet on himself and is poised to reap the reward of a maximum contract from the Bulls, whether or not it takes an offer sheet from another club in restricted free agency this summer. Butler’s emergence was validated by the NBA’s Most Improved Player Award, and he’s now feeling every bit the star, with all that entails.

In the blowout loss in Game 6, Jimmy Butler finished 8-of-22 from the field for 20 points, while Rose finished with 14 points on 7-of-16 shooting. But the bigger problem was Rose disappearing towards the end of the game, only taking four second-half shots while Butler took 12.

As we all know, there's only one basketball and that can create problems with two superstars. The looming rumors of Tom Thibodeau being ousted in Chicago make the problem between Butler and Rose even more concerning.  The two stars make up $36 million of Chicago's cap next season if Butler is signed to a max contract in Chicago. Someone better make sure these issues get ironed out ASAP.

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[via CBS Chicago]