The Jimmy Butler trade rumors are back, and stronger than ever this week. The Bulls dangled the 27-year old NBA All-Star on the trade market in the summer of 2016, as well as the weeks approaching the trade deadline during this past NBA season but never pulled the trigger on a deal.
Now with the franchise seemingly as directionless as they have ever been, the rumors are back and this time there’s a couple of new wrinkles in the fold. The Boston Celtics have long adored the versatile two-way guard/forward, but now a new suitor has arose in the bidding for Butler’s services. The division-rival Cleveland Cavaliers are making a push to acquire the services of Jimmy Butler after a disappointing loss in the NBA Finals at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.
LeBron James wants more help, and he is not happy about the parting of ways that occurred this week when the Cavaliers announced that they dismissed former General Manager David Griffin, making it imperative for the future of the Cavaliers that Dan Gilbert make a big move to keep his superstar happy and in town beyond the 2017-2018 NBA season or face his franchise spiraling back the the depths of mediocrity.
As it stands right now, the Bulls are staring down a dilemma with the future direction of their franchise, with no real movable assets outside of Butler, the club really doesn’t have a realistic path to hitting the reset button without trading their best player this summer. Butler, who is coming off of his best season of his career, averaging 24 points, six rebounds and six assists per game for the Bulls, will likely never have a higher trade value than he does right now.
Given the need for superstars in order for even the super teams to compete for an NBA Finals Championship in today’s lopsided landscape that is the NBA, if the Bulls do not intend on building around Butler for the long-term, now is the time to pull the trigger and fetch a king’s ransom in return.
Why Would the Bulls Trade the Face of the Franchise?
The trade would surely be the determining factor in the future of the Bulls front-office and coaching staff, and would have to provide a return that lays the groundwork for a new, and fruitful era of Bulls basketball. If Gar Foreman and John Paxson screw this one up, you can bet your bottoms that they will be on the chopping block in the not-so-distant future, and Fred Hoiberg will be right behind them.
Some have said that Michael Reinsdorf, the son of Jerry Reinsdorf who now runs the day-to-day operations with the Bulls, is a more ruthless business man than his father, and that now that he is in charge of the team, guys like Paxson and Foreman will not be show the same loyalty that they were by the elder Reinsdorf.
It’s worth noting that Butler is eligible for a “super max” deal with the Bulls when he becomes a free agent next summer, a deal that would cost the Bulls more than $200 million dollars to keep Butler in Chicago. Meaning that the Bulls may actually be trying to avoid shelling out that max contract next summer, while making sure that they have an adequate foundation in place for their future without Jimmy Butler.
What Could the Bulls get in Return for Butler?
The idea that the Bulls would trade their best player and the face of their franchise is one that will be a tough sell with a ruckus fan-base that is still licking their wounds after a circus-like season that seemingly droned on forever before the Bulls were dismantled by the Boston Celtics in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs.
As it stands, one theory that many NBA insiders see as a strong possibility is a three-team deal that would involve Jimmy Butler heading to the Cavaliers, and the Cavaliers sending Kevin Love to a team like the Phoenix Suns in order to clear cap space for Butler, while providing the Bulls with a package of young players and draft picks that the Cavaliers can not provide.
If the Bulls sent Butler to Cleveland, and Cleveland sent Love to Phoenix in exchange for the Bulls receiving Phoenix’s number four overall selection in the upcoming NBA Draft along with some other pieces to the puzzle, the deal would likely gain the needed approval for all parties involved.
The Bulls could also receive Eric Bledsoe in a deal that involved the Suns, as Bledsoe is known to be a piece of the Phoenix roster that they are willing to part with this summer in the right deal. There Cavaliers would likely have to send picks back to Phoenix in addition to Love in order to make the deal work for the Suns as well.
The Denver Nuggets have also been mentioned as a potential third party for a three-team swap involving Butler, with another team checking in with the Bulls to make a deal of their own as well. The Minnesota Timberwolves have been in contact with the Bulls front office this week in an attempt to reunite Jimmy Butler with his former Head Coach, Tom Thibodeau. It’s no secret that Jimmy Butler and Fred Hoiberg don’t see eye-to-eye in Chicago, but Butler and his former Head Coach Tom Thibodeau get along great, and Butler blossomed into one of the best two-way guards in the NBA under Thibodeau’s tutelage when he was in Chicago.
Butler being dealt to the Timberwolves could be the most interesting return of them all for the Bulls, with Minnesota possessing a lot of young players that the Bulls could use to begin their rebuilding process, mainly Andrew Wiggins.
When Can we Expect a Butler Deal to Take Place?
A deal involving Jimmy Butler would more than likely take place sometime in the next 24-48 hours with the NBA Draft taking place on Thursday evening, the Bulls would want to have any draft choices that they acquire in place as soon as possible so that they can begin to re-work their war room strategy, depending on what the return for Butler includes.
Multiple insiders have been on the record this afternoon noting that the Butler talks are heavier than they have ever been to this point, and that a deal is more than likely to get completed at this point.
The question isn’t if it will get done, but when it will get done and who will be involved at this point according to an unnamed NBA Executive who was quoted this afternoon by Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago by saying, “It’s either Cleveland or Boston, but he’s going.”
Buckle up Bulls fans, it’s going to be an interesting few days for the Bulls and the direction of the franchise moving forward.