The Chicago Bulls have agreed to trade All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick in tonight’s NBA Draft, Justin Patton, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick, Lauri Markkanen.
Marc Stein of ESPN broke the news during the draft:
The Wolves are close to acquiring Jimmy Butler from Chicago, according to league sources
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 22, 2017
Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical then filled in the details:
Chicago is finalizing a deal to send Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and No. 7 pick, league source says.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 22, 2017
Chicago Bulls Trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota Timberwolves
Butler has three years left on his contract. However, he has a $19.8 million player option for the 2019-20 season, which he will likely decline. That’s because the NBA’s rising salary cap will allow Butler to sign a larger contract, even though he’ll be 29 years old by then. Butler signed his current five-year, $92 million deal to stay with the Bulls in the 2015 off-season. He’s played all six of his NBA seasons in Chicago.
With this trade, the Bulls are looking to reset their team and start building from scratch. Veteran guards Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo will likely leave the team as free agents in 2018 – unless Chicago buys them out before then – as they likely have no intentions of sticking around for a rebuild. The Bulls will try to put together a young core through the draft, starting with Dunn, LaVine, and Markkanen. Chicago’s 2018 first-round draft pick, as well as their selections from tonight’s draft, will be integral to their future. The Bulls will most likely try to lose as many games as possible next season in an attempt to make their 2018 selection one of the highest in the draft. Their best bet will be to piece together a group of young players, one step at a time.
The Wolves, on the other hand, receive an elite wing player in Butler. A three-time Second Team All-Defense member, Butler is one of the best in the game at locking down perimeter players. On offense, he’s blossomed into an excellent number one option, averaging career-highs of 23.9 points and 5.5 assists per game last season.
Butler also won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award for the 2014-15 season, showing his strong work ethic. To go along with the scoring and facilitating, Butler set his best rebound mark with 6.2 per game last season. He also shot 86.5 percent from the free throw line on 8.9 attempts per game, both career-bests, making him a much more efficient scorer.
Finally, Butler has been among the league leaders in minutes for the past four seasons, showing impressive stamina. He’s had a few injury issues that have caused him to miss games, but nothing serious enough to put his career in jeopardy. The 27-year-old might still have room for improvement, as crazy as it seems. Butler is arguably a top 10 player in the NBA, and he surely puts Minnesota in the conversation for the playoffs in the 2017-18 season.
In Minnesota, Butler will be re-united with his coach from his first few seasons in the league, Tom Thibodeau.