On the night of the NBA Draft, some major NBA trade rumors have hit involving Chicago Bulls’ star Jimmy Butler. Instead of heading to a team that was contending in last season’s playoffs, he may have just created a new contender. Reportedly, Butler will be traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The big news arrives after days of rumors with speculation that the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, or Los Angeles Lakers might be frontrunners to acquire Butler. However, this particular deal unites Butler with several talented young stars and his former Bulls head coach, Tom Thibodeau.
The proposed Jimmy Butler trade was reported by various sources on Thursday night, including Real Basketball GM. The deal would send Butler from Chicago to Minnesota. In exchange, the Timberwolves send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and their No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The move puts Butler into the Western Conference after spending the first portion of his career with the Chicago Bulls. It also seems to bolster the Timberwolves’ roster into a potential playoff team just based on the fact they have two rising stars in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, now with the veteran leadership of Jimmy Butler as well.
As for the Chicago Bulls, this would seem to indicate the team is moving into rebuild mode. In their most recent season, they acquired former Miami Heat All-Star Dwyane Wade, along with guard Rajon Rondo. The team managed to get into the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but couldn’t get past the Boston Celtics in the first round.
However, some of that was attributed to the fact that Rondo went down with an injury. Still, one has to wonder why Chicago moved on so quickly from the trio of Butler, Wade, and Rondo, other than the fact they feared Butler would leave as a free agent in two years.
In the 2016-17 NBA season, Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game. He also became an NBA All-Star starter in the East and helped lead his Chicago Bulls to the postseason. During his most recent trip to the NBA Playoffs, Butler averaged 22.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game, while also recording 1.7 steals per contest over six games in the first round.
Later on Thursday, the trade was confirmed by ESPN‘s Marc Stein to be agreed upon “in principle” between the two teams. The Bulls will get Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick. Chicago will send the No. 16 draft pick over the Timberwolves, along with their All-Star forward. At No. 7, the Bulls selected big man Lauri Markkanen from the Arizona Wildcats.
The reported Bulls and Minnesota trade may come as a surprise to some fans. Over the past several weeks and months, reports began to trickle out about Jimmy Butler heading to teams such as the Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, or Los Angeles Lakers. In the past several days, debates heated up over whether Jimmy Butler or Paul George would be a better fit to join LeBron James on the Cleveland Cavaliers. For the next several seasons, it seems that question may have to wait as Butler may still decide to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves when he can in the future.
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]