The Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler was recently a hot topic in NBA trade rumors. Chicago was reportedly ready to part ways with him when the 2016-17 NBA season concludes. That may have changed especially after the Bulls returned to the playoff race with Saturday’s 106-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
A few days ago, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer mentioned in his report that a “front-office source” told him Butler is “as good as gone” when the Bulls’ present campaign ends. So far, no one from Chicago is confirming this, and it is unlikely for someone to do so with the team having a legitimate shot at making it to the postseason. However, there might be some truth to this.
Before the current season, Butler was linked to several teams, and the Boston Celtics were believed to have had the best chance of acquiring him. Boston has the assets to complete a mega deal, and with the Bulls almost choosing to rebuild during that time, there were speculations that it almost happened. However, when free agency struck, Chicago went all out and signed two champion guards in Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo.
The Bulls had a 3-0 start to the regular season, but following this, they became inconsistent. As the season rolled, setbacks like injuries, team issues, and losing streaks dampened their chances of having a breakout year, something fans expected with Butler, Wade, and Rondo on the same roster.
There is hope remaining for Chicago, and as of late, the team is playing well. In the absence of Wade, who is out for the remainder of the season due to an elbow injury, the Bulls are having a resurgence. Leading them is Butler, and this may be reason enough for the franchise to keep him for a few more years.
Since Wade was ruled out, the Bulls performed splendidly. They went 5-3 in their last eight games and are on a three-game winning streak. Those wins were captured versus the Milwaukee Bucks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Atlanta. Perhaps the biggest was the one versus the Hawks.
Overcoming the Hawks catapulted the Bulls back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings. Chicago is now 7th in the East holding a 37-39 record, identical to the Miami Heat (8th) and the Indiana Pacers (9th).
Taking over for the Bulls against Atlanta was Butler who had 33 points, five rebounds, eight assists, and one block. The 27-year-old All-Star was on fire for Chicago in the closing moments of the contest and made two late free-throws to seal the win.
If the success continues for the Bulls and they secure a playoff berth, the team’s front office may have to rethink trading Butler in the off-season. Wade being sidelined gave him the chance to show that he is still the man in Chicago.
Yahoo Sports! mentioned that aside from Butler, Rondo is “a major reason” why the Bulls are thriving as of late. It was stated that in Chicago’s latest winning streak, the veteran point guard is averaging nearly a triple-double (16.7 points, 10 assists, and 9.7 rebounds per outing).
Similar to Butler, there were also reports that Rondo is leaving the Windy City soon. This was due to his problem with playing time. Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg benched the 31-year-old in a number of games, and it appeared that he took this negatively.
Now, it might be time to forget the past, with Butler and Rondo carrying Chicago as it attempts to make a comeback to the playoffs. The Bulls came up short in the 2015-16 season, Hoiberg’s first year, as they finished ninth in the East at 42-40.
[Featured Image by David Banks/AP Images]