The Chicago Bulls looked like they might trade Jimmy Butler ahead of last June’s draft. But then they didn’t. And then they signed Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. And then they were steamrolling opponents to start the 2016-17 crusade, essentially squelching all Butler speculation.
But Chicago has since crashed back down earth, with a below-.500 record and offense that cannot space the floor, and is apparently ready to deal their All-Star wing for the right price, according to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher (h/t Celtics Blog):
“League sources say that the team made it known weeks ago through back channels that shooting guard Jimmy Butler is available for the right price.”
The timing of this rumor is fitting for the Bulls. People are already wondering about head coach Fred Hoiberg’s job security, the Rondo situation has devolved into a no-win soap opera, and Chicago doesn’t even look like an ancillary threat in the Eastern Conference. With the Cleveland Cavaliers still lording over everybody, it’s not a bad idea to take a step back and start over, building up a younger contender for when LeBron James’ window has finally closed, roughly 55 years from now or so.
Butler has been fantastic this year and is under a contract that was signed before the salary-cap boon. So the Bulls will have no trouble commanding top dollar for his services if they choose to trade him. Both the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets, the two team’s with the most intriguing assets, would presumably be willing to give up an assortment of future picks and current prospects to push a a deal through.
On a slightly unrelated note, if Butler is available, it’s poor timing for the Atlanta Hawks. They just traded Kyle Korver and are now shopping Paul Millsap. They could, in theory, use any Nuggets and Celtics interest to drum up the offers of other teams. But that becomes exponentially harder if Denver and Boston end up devoting their attention and assets to Butler, who is both younger and, unlike Millsap, unable to leave in free agency this summer.