Chicago Bulls

McElroy | No substance behind Jimmy Butler trade scenarios

April 21, 2017 - Chicago, IL, USA - The Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (21) walks to the locker room after a 104-87 loss against the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at the United Center in Chicago on Friday, April 21, 2017. The loss trimmed the Bulls series lead to 2-1 (Photo by Terrence Antonio James/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)
(Terrence Antonio James/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire)

Teams holding out hope that Jimmy Butler will somehow become available will be greatly disappointed. According to the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson, the Chicago Bulls never had any intention of moving on from their All-Star forward. All of the recent trade chatter has been “more speculation than reality.”

That certainly doesn’t mean things can’t change at the drop of a hat. If a team like the Boston Celtics starts offering the Bulls the world to acquire Butler, there is a good chance he could end up playing in another uniform sooner rather than later.

But the likelihood of that happening is slim to none.

The Celtics have been the primary team linked to a potential trade with the Bulls due to their enormous assets and readiness to compete for a championship. They were the No. 1 seed last year in the Eastern Conference, and they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were soundly defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Adding a player like Butler to that roster would put them one step closer to competing with the Cavaliers.

For now, that doesn’t appear to be the road map for Celtics general manager Danny Ainge. The Celtics are expected to draft a player with the No. 3 overall pick on Thursday and then go after Utah Jazz star forward Gordon Hayward if he opts out of his contract.

“The Bulls aren’t giving Butler away,” Johnson wrote. “That’s why they asked for at least three — and, in some proposals, four — assets last June in their talks with the Celtics. Now Butler is a third-team All-NBA player on top of a three-time All-Star, and the Bulls told him how much they value him at his recent player exit meeting. At that time, the Bulls remained consistent in their message to Butler: We value you and want to build with you but must listen to any offers we receive out of due diligence. As of now, there have been no new offers from the Celtics.”

The Bulls could always walk back on their word and offer the Celtics a good deal that includes the No. 3 overall draft pick. That should be more than enough to tempt Ainge into shifting his focus and getting a deal done.

It could also signal a reboot in Chicago.

Without Butler on the floor, the future would look bleak for Dwayne Wade and Rajon Rondo. The veteran superstars are more suited for championship contenders with a deep roster already in place. Wade especially can’t be depended on for the extended minutes that would be needed to carry a young Bulls team.

Unless the Bulls are ready for those kinds of decisions, they would be better off keeping Butler—for now at least.


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