When the Chicago Bulls seemed to be on the verge of trading Jimmy Butler in the minutes leading up to the NBA Draft, it created a huge stir. NBA fans had become exhausted hearing about all of the trade rumors involving Jimmy Butler’s name. The speculation was that the Chicago Bulls would deal Jimmy Butler, but where? Once the dust had settled, the three-time NBA all-star landed with the Minnesota Timberwolves. And then the murmurs grew louder.
The biggest story of the night from the NBA Draft was the Bulls agreeing to trade (courtesy of ESPN) Jimmy Butler to the Timberwolves. Going to the Timberwolves along with Butler is Creighton’s Justin Patton, whom the Bulls took with the No. 16 pick. In return, Minnesota sent last year’s No. 5 pick Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the rights to Arizona shooter Lauri Markkanen. Of the NBA trades which took place on draft night, the one conducted by the Bulls and Timberwolves was by far the most significant. Butler was the only star player who traded on draft night.
The Paul George trade rumors were loud, but the talks fizzled considerably after awhile. Many people thought, like Butler, the Indiana Pacers’ star would also land with another team. Perhaps the return the Chicago Bulls received from the Minnesota Timberwolves was enough to have the Pacers wait things out.
The actual return the Chicago Bulls received for Jimmy Butler did not reflect the reported trade market for him. The Bulls were trashed by NBA observers for a trade that could appear to heavily favor the Timberwolves. The two players the Bulls got back come with question marks.
For instance, Kris Dunn struggled as a rookie, leaving people to write him off already. Most of Dunn’s was with his shooting. It was one of the knocks on him coming out of Providence last year. If Dunn gets an opportunity to play regular minutes that could change. What has become lost is the fact that Timberwolves’ coach Tom Thibodeau seldom plays rookies.
While Kris Dunn works on perfecting his game, Zach LaVine will continue recovering from a torn ACL. He suffered the injury in February, but he appears to be ahead of schedule. During an interview with Uproxx, LaVine sounded positive that he would return to form.
“I feel good. I’m rehabbing right now, about three and a half months out. It’s healed really well. Doctors said if they had a perfect situation for where my knee could be at, it would be mine. So that made my day, and I’m back getting ready to do what I do.”
LaVine’s recovery is the key in the trade the Bulls made with the Timberwolves. He has the ability to be an offensive star. In a sense, LaVine is more of a dynamic scorer than the departed Jimmy Butler. LaVine’s shortcomings are on defense, which can be crafted as he continues to rehab.
OFFICIAL: Bulls acquire Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen from Minnesota. pic.twitter.com/L6T5nCHuzm— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) June 23, 2017
In the case of Lauri Markkanen, he is an offensive-minded player with enough athleticism to become a star as well. The jury is still out on him as a defender and rebounder. It could be a simple fix of better footwork. Markkanen has at least two years of work ahead of him. If he turns into a variation of Kristaps Porzingis or a taller version of former NBA star Peja Stojakovic, any and all concerns will cease.
The Chicago Bulls made a mistake by not playing poker with the teams who appeared interested in Jimmy Butler. The NBA trade rumors that came out regarding the prospects of the Bulls looking to deal Butler made the team seem desperate. Nothing confirms that fact more than the Bulls inclusion of the No. 16 pick. If the Bulls had kept the pick, it would look like a better deal on paper.
It is too early to tell if the Chicago Bulls were suckered into trading Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. The three players the Bulls got in return all have the potential to be star players some day. What everyone has focused keenly on are their question marks. With a team like the Bulls engineering the trade, they deserve the vitriol, but a wait-and-see approach should always be given.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]