The Chicago Bulls are rumored to be pulling Jimmy Butler back off the trade block, keeping their star guard and instead rebuilding around him with some other big moves.
There have been reports for months that Butler has a strained relationship with team management, largely with coach Fred Hoiberg. Some sources close to the team have questioned Butler’s commitment, and past reports indicate that the team felt it easier to trade him than attempt to repair the relationship.
That may have now changed. New reports suggest that the Chicago Bulls have decided to hang onto Jimmy Butler at least for the near future.
As ESPN noted, the most likely destination for Butler may have just closed up. There were rumors that the Minnesota Timberwolves may make a play for Butler to reunite with coach Tom Thibodeau, but Bulls general manager Gar Froman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson don’t have a great relationship with Thibodeau, ESPN reported.
While rumors indicate that Jimmy Butler is off the trading block for now, that doesn’t means his strained relationship with the Chicago Bulls is fully healed. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the organization has been leaking stories about Butler’s “diva” behavior, including his rocky relationship with Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose.
“There actually is some fact to go along with the fiction, as Butler has no trust and very little respect for Forman, and has been vocal about it in the locker room. He also was getting tired of little verbal jabs thrown at him by Noah before the big man’s injury, but not enough to tarnish the relationship long-term.
“Either way, a source close to the situation has indicated that Butler is less than pleased on several fronts, starting with the belief that the picture being painted of him is actually being pushed by the organization.”
The report claimed that the worst-case scenario for the team would be forcing Jimmy Butler to play out the remaining four years and $75 million left on his contract.
But K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that Butler’s agent could still ask for a trade if the relationship with the team worsens, and the Bulls would likely find a big market for him. Butler averaged 20.9 points, 4.8 assists, and 5.3 rebounds last season, and he could be a fit on more than a dozen teams in the league.
While Jimmy Butler is likely to stay with the Chicago Bulls, at least for the immediate future, the team could be looking at some other big moves for next season. Fansided writer Michael Saenz suggested that Dwight Howard could be a target for the Bulls, who are looking to replace the oft-injured Noah.
Saenz connected the Dwight Howard rumors to the team’s attempts to trade Derrick Rose. If the Bulls can’t find a trade partner for Rose, they may change course and aim for a more immediate re-build by signing Howard, Saenz wrote.
This could be an especially intriguing proposition if the Bulls were to lose Pau Gasol as well, Saenz wrote.
“However, it wouldn’t be outlandish to believe that perhaps it is time for Noah and the Bulls to go their separate ways.
“With Gasol and Noah both exiting, the Bulls would have a glaring need up front. Assuming that they would be left with Bobby Portis, who could slide into the starting power forward position, and really no center. Unless you’re willing to bet on Cristiano Felicio, Dwight fits.”
There are still some who doubt the rumors that the Chicago Bulls will be making a big trade move this offseason. The Chicago Tribune noted that the team has been more willing to make moves through the draft than trades, moving up to grab players they find the best fit.
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