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Bulls: Latest Jimmy Butler Drama Proof Bulls Were Right to Move On

Jimmy Butler is at it again. The former Bulls superstar is making his unhappiness with his teammates known very loudly. Him and Dwyane Wade famously created a rift in the Bulls locker room two years ago when they teamed up to call into question both the intensity with which Fred Hoiberg coached, and the commitment that they were receiving from their younger teammates.

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski penned an article Sunday detailing a “clear the air” meeting Butler and former Bulls coach turned Timberwolves Coach/President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau were set to have. The meeting is supposed to “set the tone” for the Wolves 18-19 season. If Butler’s history is any indication, this is not a good meeting to be having. With free agency looming, and the Western Conference as difficult as ever, this may be a last-ditch attempt to salvage a relationship that appears to be coming to a rapid end.

This is certainly not what Thibodeau and the Wolves had in mind when they traded Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to the Bulls on Draft Day 2017 in exchange for the services of Butler. At the time, the move was much maligned by critics everywhere. Everywhere you looked the Bulls were being criticized for either not receiving enough for their superstar, or for initiating a rebuild that should not have been initiated. The Wolves felt that in trading for Butler they were putting themselves on the map in the treacherous Western Conference, and that with top picks Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns in the fold, Butler would elevate them into the league’s elite. But a year later, the narrative of the trade seems to have flipped entirely on its head.

Butler is preparing to face Thibodeau, presumably to air his grievances against his young teammates. While the Wolves surely hoped Butler would instill into his young teammates some of the hard-nosed, grinding defense on which he made his name in the NBA, it has not worked out that way as both Wiggins and Towns failed to take noticeable steps on the defensive end of the court this past season. While Tom Thibodeau’s famously aggressive and brutal practices may have resulted in some wonderful years for Bulls fans, it appears his approach is teetering on backfiring in Minnesota. It was even reported by Wojnarowski that Wolves owner Glen Taylor is second guessing his decision to give Thibodeau full control over the roster to the point of nearly firing him this off-season.

The Wolves are at a crossroads, and their handling of Butler and the locker room environment he seems to create could dictate the next decade of Minnesota basketball. Should Wiggins and Towns continue to fail in their progression under Thibodeau and clash with Butler, the Wolves risk remaining in the basketball hell they tried desperately to escape with the Butler trade.

Meanwhile in Chicago, the narrative on the trade has changed as well. Markkanen appears to be a piece the team can build around moving forward, Kris Dunn flashed much of what made him a top five pick in 2016, and the Front Office still felt strong enough conviction in Zach LaVine despite a down year while recovering from ACL surgery, to extend him for north of $75 million. Some of the same young players that drew the ire of Butler, such as Cam Payne, Denzel Valentine and Bobby Portis took large strides this past season with Butler removed from the equation. The locker room in Chicago has been a much happier place sans Butler, and now appears to be something people are happy to be part of.

Whether or not the three players acquired for Butler will ever be the core of the next Bulls championship team is still up in the air. But what is clear now is that Jimmy Butler is a locker room cancer that the Bulls were fortunate to rid themselves of. As much talent as Butler brings to the table, he needs all of his teammates to demonstrate what he views as appropriate work ethic, or else he will create a rift in the locker room that cannot be repaired. Just as he has done in Minnesota, just as he did in Chicago. The development of this young Bulls core is something Bulls fans can look forward to, and as Butler prepares his inevitable Minnesota departure, be thankful the Bulls pulled the trigger at the right time. Had the Bulls not pulled the trigger on the Butler deal at the right time, they can look no further than the Timberwolves debacle to get an alternate reality version of what would have been in Chicago.

Follow David Wildman on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit: ESPN.com

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9 comments on “Bulls: Latest Jimmy Butler Drama Proof Bulls Were Right to Move On

  1. Wow “jimmy butler is a locker room cancer” confirmed lol …..ouch

  2. Didn’t someone get punched in the face last year during a Bulls practice and Butler was already gone? Butler may have been a problem, but obviously not the only problem in the locker room.

    • David Wildman

      Fights between teammates happen. It’s not great, and it shouldn’t, but they do. What Jimmy Butler did was actively divide the locker room. That’s a far different and more serious problem.

  3. Toks Visions Akisanya

    This is a garbage article that isn’t based on any facts. So how is Butler a locker room caner, where’s your evidence? You are judging based on rumors and speculations. I hope this isn’t what they are teaching you at ISU David. What we know is a fact is that Butler plays hard on both sides of the court. He is trying to implore his lazy underachieving teammates to do the same, and they don’t want to. And in your mind, Butler is the problem. So they trade him away, and and now the Bulls locker room is happy like you said, but they still suck. They did not make the playoffs, and not even close. Now here are the Timberwolves, they haven’t made the playoff in ages. They acquire Butler, and now they finally do. But KAT doesn’t show up in the playoffs, and Wiggins doesn’t play defense as always, and they lose in the first round. So Butler is trying to get them together to build team chemistry, but these kids want to do their own thing. So he calls them out. And now you are like, let’s get rid of Butler, so the Wolves can return to not making the playoffs anymore. I’m confused at what you think a successful team is. It’s seems you are happy with a team that doesn’t make the playoffs, as long as everything is good in the locker room. I will take 5 Butlers on my team. Lebron has said to the media many times that his team isn’t good and they need help. Throwing his teammates under the bus numerous times, this is a team that includes 2 all stars in Love and Irving. Yet, you don’t call out Lebron. But Butler is a team cancer because he can’t stand the fact that his young teammates that aren’t any good, won’t even at least put in the work to be better.

    Whatever David.

    • David Wildman

      Toks,
      Thank you for reading my article and taking the time to respond. The Bulls “suck” because they are rebuilding. They are headed in the right direction. Jimmy Butler and the Wolves are not trending noticeably up in the same way the Bulls are. Yes, Wiggins and KAT have not done what they should and might be lazy, but the way Jimmy Butler goes about trying to motivate them is wrong in my opinion. This article was not based on rumors and speculations. It’s based on fact. Going to the media with your teammates grievances and coach criticisms is not professional, nor is it him attempting to “build team chemistry” It’s the opposite.
      As far as your claim that LeBron has thrown his teammates under the bus “numerous times”, well that’s just wrong. He’s never even come close to doing that, and I challenge you to show me where he’s done that. If you can, I’ll admit I was wrong. But he’s never done that.
      When I write articles, I research them and base them in fact. Because if I just wildly word vomited my thoughts, regardless of if they were based on fact or not, onto the internet, I would look foolish. I would hope our commenters would do the same research prior to commenting. But I guess that isn’t always the case.

      • Toks Visions Akisanya

        Lmao. It’s funny how you say fighting in the locker is one of those things that just happens, but when it comes to Butler, it’s unprofessional. Well, it’s all unprofessional, and it happens on most teams. Lebron has done it a lot. Let me tell you how Lebron does it, when you the media ask him how he feels about carrying his team to the finals, instead of being a leader and tell the media that this is a team game and we all play our parts to getting here; he rather basks in the glory of the comment and actually try and give a response. When he goes to the media about them needing to make moves before the all star break, that’s saying your teammates aren’t good enough to win. It’s all passive aggressive stance. That’s something D.Rose never did, even when we knew he needed some help. And when his brother came out to say it, you the media jumped on him. But of course Lebron will get a pass. I have heard Big Ben, Tom Brady and many others call out teammates in the media. Butler was doing the same.

        He is trying to build chemistry, but according to the Almighty You, he isn’t. And you know this how? This is why I said your whole article isn’t fact based. You said he is attempting the opposite. How? If you are my teammate and i’m trying to get you to take out time and come practice with me, but you don’ want to. And yet, you are terrible at defense, then I’ll give up on you also. Butler isn’t their boss or coach, he has no authority over his teammates, so all he can do is try and appeal to them. If the don’t agree, then that’s it. What’s he suppose to do, just keep quiet and suck the next season. No, you call them out.

        I don’t see you writing any articles about these lazy teammates. You will rather write about Butler because of your biased against him. YOU HAVE SHOWN NO OBJECTIVITY IN YOUR ARTICLE, NONE. A balanced article would have spoken about his teammates and their part in all of this. Like a reader here said, I guess it’s Butler’s fault one of those lazy young Bulls punched his teammate in the face.

        Well, thanks for replying.

  4. I’ll never forget the Thibodeau led Bulls though, watcing them hold team to 80 points while Rose blew the entire league away offensively was really something to watch

    • David Wildman

      Agreed Ryan. Everyone misses those days. Probably never see anything like it again.

  5. Toks Visions Akisanya

    Butler just requested a trade, good for him.

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