The Bulls appear to be considering the idea of a Jimmy Butler trade this summer, according to “rumblings” that Chris Mannix of The Vertical has heard (video link; scroll to 6:40 mark). Mannix, who says there’s “legitimate interest in Chicago in potentially dealing Jimmy Butler this offseason,” doesn’t make it entirely clear just how willing the Bulls would be to trade the swingman who signed a five-year, $92.34MM deal last summer, but it nonetheless looks like it’s not out of the question.
Several executives who spoke with Mannix identified the Magic as a team to watch regarding Butler, as Mannix wrote earlier this week, when he confirmed earlier reporting that the Celtics, among others, reached out to gauge Chicago’s interest in a deal at the deadline. The Bulls turned those teams away, but execs told Mannix that they’re going to try again.
Butler made waves in December when he criticized coach Fred Hoiberg, who’s also in the first year of a five-year contract, for his laid-back demeanor and said he wanted to be coached harder. Butler insisted that he didn’t mean to call out Hoiberg, but some around the Bulls have seen Butler as selfish and were confused about why Butler wasn’t embracing Hoiberg’s offense, as K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported around that time.
The Bulls played well for a stretch after Butler’s comments about the coach, winning seven of their next nine games, but injuries to Butler and others and poor play in the time since have left Chicago at 37-37, two games behind the Pacers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. A strained left knee kept Butler out for a month earlier this season, and he sat three more games right after coming back March 5th, leading Vertical colleague Bobby Marks to express concern about his long-term health in the same video.
Butler has played in every game since March 14th but has averaged only 14.3 points in 33.8 minutes per game. Overall, he’s posting a career high 21.0 points per game this season.
What would a fair deal for Butler look like? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.