The Chicago Bulls have moved on from Jimmy Butler in a trade that sends the All-Star guard to the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson. In return, the Bulls get Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 pick in Thursday’s draft.
The Bulls drafted Lauri Markkanen, a sharpshooter from Gonzaga, with the 7th pick.
The trade reunites Butler with Tom Thibodeau, who coached him through 2014 before taking a job as head coach and president of the Timberwolves last summer.
The Timberwolves also acquired the No. 16 pick from Chicago in the deal, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
Butler had a standout season with the Bulls, getting a nod as an All-Star starter averaging 24 points, six rebounds, and 5.5 assists. But the two-way wing was also named to the All-NBA Third team, which put him in line for a Designated Player contract worth more than $200 million over five seasons.
Butler has maintained he wants to stay in Chicago, but the Bulls’ organization has been reluctant to name him the face of the franchise moving forward. Instead, they’ve turned every stone in looking for trade opportunities to move on from their perimeter superstar.
The Bulls could have done better
Our resident college basketball maven and diehard Bulls fan Ricky O’Donnell was furious at the deal when he got word. Chicago just traded its best player to the Timberwolves for pennies on the dollar — LaVine off of an ACL injury, a point guard the Wolves gave up on in Dunn and a super shooter in Markkanen. And they threw the No. 16 pick in the draft along with it.
But for GM Gar Forman and team president John Paxson, this is what they’ve wanted: a chance to move on for good from the team Tom Thibodeau helped assemble years ago.
The Wolves win
In acquiring Butler, the Timberwolves get a bona fide superstar to lead a promising young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Minnesota finished the season 31-51, tied with the New York Knicks, for 13th place in the Western Conference.
Now, with a true All-Star in Butler, Minnesota can make the jump into the West’s upper ranks and compete for the playoff spot many believed they could have attained last season. The 26-year-old wing is a playmaking forward who can create for both himself and other players. He’s a versatile defender with the capability to defend positions 1 through 4, and should help anchor the perimeter for a defense Tom Thibodeau has yet to put his signature on.