Watching Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls play their first preseason game, one cannot help but think about the possibilities. The Bulls can go either way this season, and that will dictate which type of NBA rumors that will generate some steam. However, there will be questions that need answers.
Is this a completed Chicago Bulls’ roster?
Are the Chicago Bulls Eastern Conference contenders?
Will the Chicago Bulls struggle in mediocrity?
The answers to the last two questions will determine the answer to the first one. It is as simple as a case of addition or subtraction. If the Bulls play the way some people expect them to play, as in being in the mix for a playoff spot, look for them to add to the roster. The opposite would happen if the Bulls struggle. And if that were to happen Jimmy Butler may be the first star player out the door.
Most signs point to the Bulls being in the mix for at least a sixth, seventh, or eighth seed in the playoffs.
That might convince the Bulls to go for a major trade in an effort to add a difference-maker. The Bulls do need help in the low-post and outside shooting, so acquiring a player who can do both is ideal.
Sacramento Kings’ center DeMarcus Cousins is an ideal fit for the Bulls, as is Jahlil Okafor of the Philadelphia 76ers. On a smaller scale in terms of name recognition, Serge Ibaka, Markieff Morris, and Spencer Hawes also fit the bill.
A hot start by the Chicago Bulls will undoubtedly sway the trade conversation towards this direction. If the Bulls jump out of the gate with a record of 13-17 after their Christmas Day showdown with the San Antonio Spurs, a change could ring in the new year.
New acquisitions Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez could all be moved if that scenario came true. The Bulls will likely go a different route, opting to trade the player who offers the best return.
According to ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh, the Chicago Bulls could revive the Jimmy Butler trade talks if the team falters.
It is no secret how the general managers of the NBA view Jimmy Butler. They see him as a star on the rise. Jimmy Butler is the second star on most championship teams. He would be the Kyrie Irving to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James or Klay Thompson to Stephen Curry of Golden State.
That is not bad company for Jimmy Butler to be in. He is the go-to player on the Bulls right now. His continued evolution as a player can catapult the Bulls to a higher status as a contender.
Butler’s role with the Chicago Bulls is one that he relishes, as reported by ESPN Chicago’s Nick Friedell. New Bulls’ star Dwyane Wade also sees Butler’s ability.
“I think he’s going to be comfortable in every role. I don’t see that being a problem with Jimmy at all. I think it’s my job to help him in ways that I see he can be better… And I think me and Rondo coming in and saying that early is just giving him the confidence that he didn’t have to worry about taking a step back or anything. Shaq did the same thing for me when he came to Miami. Just the mental approach to the game from him saying them words to me, allowing me to go out and just play my game. That’s all we want him to do, play his game.”
Jimmy Butler asked for the spotlight, and last season, he was rebuffed by former Bulls’ Stars Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. It is undisputed that the Bulls are now Jimmy Butler’s team, but that will come at a price.
Any problems the Chicago Bulls have as a team will reflect on Jimmy Butler. Going 13-17 at the 30-game mark will create some doubt about the Bulls direction as a franchise. It will also spark the idea that rebuilding could happen faster with a Jimmy Butler trade.
If the Bulls reverse the course and put Jimmy Butler back on the trade market, look for several teams to get involved. Perhaps the most intriguing trade scenario would be for the Bulls to ship Butler 90 miles north to the Milwaukee Bucks. A trade between the Bulls and Bucks could center around Chicago-native Jabari Parker, Greg Monroe, and Rashad Vaughn.
Jimmy Butler would return to the city of Milwaukee, home of Marquette University, where he played college basketball. The Bucks would receive a star to pair with Giannis Antetokounmpo, giving them a jump up in the Eastern Conference standings.
As for the Bulls, they would only be taking a minor step backward. Jabari Parker is a full year removed from suffering a torn ACL. He is a capable scorer who could benefit greatly from playing with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo for a season. The Bulls could use a versatile forward with Parker’s skill set. Natural scorers are hard to come by, and the benefit of playing with unselfish veteran guards is that they will get the ball in his hands where he can be effective.
Greg Monroe would provide the extra punch inside the paint. Again, the Bulls’ biggest weaknesses are inside the low-post and outside shooting. Monroe does not have three-point range on his jumper, but he is reliable from 18 feet.
Look for the NBA rumors regarding Greg Monroe to the Chicago Bulls to become a thing if the Bulls play well. The Bucks want to get out of Monroe’s contract that is worth $17.1 million this season. The Bucks have been looking to trade Monroe (courtesy of Bleacher Report) for months now.
If the Bulls were 17-13, or even 19-11 at the 30-game mark with a weakened frontcourt, they could offer the Bucks point guard Jerian Grant, veteran Taj Gibson, and a second-round draft pick for Greg Monroe. It must be noted that Monroe has a player option for next season. That could be interesting to the Bulls if they were to ponder the idea of trading for him.
The other team that could get involved in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, if he lands back on the trading block, is the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics were believed to be close to acquiring Butler in a trade with the Bulls on the night of the NBA draft. One of the most prominent of NBA rumors (courtesy of SB Nation) had the Celtics trading away their No. 3 pick and a player to the Bulls for Butler. The Minnesota Timberwolves were also in on Butler, according to the NBA rumors from that night.
At the time, the key to a deal between the Bulls and Celtics hinged on Boston taking guard Kris Dunn in the draft. They decided to take forward Jaylen Brown instead. Had Boston drafted Dunn, most people believe that Jimmy Butler would be wearing Celtics’ green today.
If the Bulls struggle, those talks could be revisited with the Celtics. If so, Brown would most likely be coming back to the Bulls, along with two first-round draft picks and Jae Crowder.
One last team to keep an eye on if the Chicago Bulls decides to trade Jimmy Butler are the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Enis Kanter and Victor Oladipo for Jimmy Butler makes too much sense for both the Bulls and Thunder not to consider. Kanter has a game better suited for the Eastern Conference. He is a solid passer with undeniable low-post skills. He could speed up the rebuilding process for the Bulls if that is the route they are forced to take if they struggle.
As for Oladipo, he is somewhat of a Jimmy Butler clone, sans the height. The Thunder could find themselves in the thick of things in the Western Conference where they are looking to strike now, rather than later. Interest in Jimmy Butler would not come as a surprise. But the Thunder will have to wait and see just like every other NBA team monitoring the Bulls and how they perform.
Nothing matters if the Chicago Bulls play well. The NBA rumors will make the Bulls out to be buyers, no team sellers at the trade deadline if they are in the hunt for a top seed in the East. It is all on the shoulders of Jimmy Butler, who can decide his own fate.
Butler’s growing pains could lead to him being traded while his stock is sky high, but the Chicago Bulls are hoping for the opposite. The Bulls are hoping that the additions of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Robin Lopez will take them back to the postseason. Currently, the Chicago Bulls are far from a completed team. And going 17-13 or better at the 30-game mark of the season will change the narrative of the NBA rumors.
Keep a close eye on the Milwaukee Bucks’ Greg Monroe. He was mentioned in several NBA rumors, including with the Chicago Bulls. Monroe could be a target whether the Bulls trade Jimmy Butler or not.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]