Chicago Bulls

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Bulls Trade Jimmy Butler To Timberwolves

JUNE 22, 8:58pm: The trade is now official, with commissioner Adam Silver announcing it during the TV broadcast of tonight’s draft. The Wolves used the No. 16 pick on Creighton’s Justin Patton to complete the deal.

6:44pm: The Timberwolves are set to acquire Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, with K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweeting that the two sides have reached an agreement in principle on a Butler deal.Jimmy Butler vertical

According to Johnson (via Twitter), the Bulls will receive Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 overall pick. The Wolves will also receive the No. 16 selection from Chicago. Marc Stein of (via Twitter) first reported that a deal was close.

The deal reunites Butler with Tom Thibodeau, his former coach in Chicago, who now serves as coach and president of basketball operations in Minnesota. Butler has been an All-Star the past three seasons and averaged 23.9 points and 6.2 rebounds with the Bulls this year.

The Timberwolves are taking on much more salary in the deal than they are unloading. They had about $24MM in available cap room after waiving Nikola Pekovic on Tuesday and receiving cap relief for his remaining salary.

Butler has three seasons left on the $95MM deal he signed with the Bulls in 2015. He is due to make nearly $18.7MM next year and more than $19.8MM in both 2018/19 and 2019/20. He also has a 5% trade bonus in his contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical, giving him an extra $1.8MM over the next three seasons.

In return, the Bulls will receive LaVine, a promising 22-year-old combo guard whose season ended in early February when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee; and Dunn, the fifth overall pick last year. Both players are on rookie contracts and were discussed when the two teams talked about a Butler trade a year ago. Chicago will also land Lauri Markkanen, the seventh overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bulls Notes: Rebuild, Rondo, Mirotic, Wade

Bulls executives Gar Forman and John Paxson spoke to reporters late on Thursday night in the wake of the blockbuster trade that sent Jimmy Butler to Minnesota and signaled a full-scale rebuild in Chicago. As Nick Friedell of tweets, Paxson explicitly used the R-word (“rebuild”) in his comments.

As a result of the its new direction, the club will remain “patient and disciplined” this offseason, according to Paxson, who says the Bulls won’t be investing big money in players unless there’s a long-term fit (Twitter link via Friedell).

Here’s more on the Bulls:

  • Forman said tonight that it’s not yet clear whether the Bulls will pick up Rajon Rondo‘s option (Twitter link via Friedell). According to Sam Amick of USA Today (Twitter link), there has been no discussion yet of a buyout for Rondo, but it’s “clearly a possibility” after the Butler trade. Rondo’s contract has a built-in buyout, since it’s only guaranteed for $3MM right now, so the Bulls would have to waive him by June 30 to avoid being on the hook for another $10MM+.
  • Despite using the seventh overall pick on Lauri Markkanen, a stretch four, the Bulls intend to re-sign Nikola Mirotic as a restricted free agent, Paxson said (Twitter link via K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune).
  • Although he won’t be thrilled to see Butler depart, Dwyane Wade is still picking up his player option for 2017/18, as Vincent Goodwill of tweets. Paxson suggested on Thursday night that if Wade had serious concerns about the team’s direction, he might not have exercised that option (Twitter link via Sam Smith of
  • The Bulls believe newly-acquired Zach LaVine is ahead of schedule in his rehab from an ACL tear, but don’t yet know when he’ll get back on the court, tweets Friedell.
  • How did Butler react to Thursday’s deal? “He’s great,” a source close to the forward tells Goodwill (Twitter link). “He’s with Thibs now.” Butler’s agent, Bernard Lee, confirmed that his client “has definitely embraced the opportunity to look forward” (Twitter link via Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press).

Warriors Acquire Jordan Bell From Bulls

10:49pm: The trade is now official, per the NBA.

10:27pm: The Bulls drafted Oregon’s Jordan Bell at No. 38 and will trade him to the Warriors, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Chicago will receive $3.5MM in return, the maximum amount allowable in a cash deal this season and a record amount for a draft pick.

Golden State is hoping to duplicate the success it had with Patrick McCaw, who was drafted 38th a year ago. Bell, a 6’9″ junior, was considered a possible first-round pick after a stellar junior season with the Ducks. He averaged 11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and an impressive 2.3 blocks per game.

Chicago had waited several years to receive this selection from the Kings, but it turned into a second-rounder instead of a first due to protections. It was the last selection of the night for the Bulls, who came away from the draft with just Lauri Markkanen at No. 7.

Draft Night Rumors: Holiday, Smith Jr., Butler, Cavs

9:14pm: In response to Amico’s note below, Channing Frye has posted an Instagram message dismissing the idea that he’s planning to retire.

Meanwhile, Mavs president Donnie Nelson also addresses an item below, telling reporters that he thinks the Dennis Smith Jr. pick means the Mavs likely won’t target a point guard in free agency (Twitter link via Damon R. Marx of The Dallas Morning News).

8:28pm: The Mavericks may not be ready to hand their offense over to No. 9 pick Dennis Smith Jr. The team still plans to make a run at Pelicans‘ point guard Jrue Holiday once free agency begins, tweets Jonathan Givony of Draft Express. A former All-Star in Philadelphia, Holiday will be seeking a significant raise after making less than $11.3MM this season. The 27-year-old averaged 15.4 points and 7.3 assists in 67 games.

There’s more news from an eventful draft night:

  • Dallas coach Rick Carlisle offered a different perspective, posts Tim MacMahon on ESPN Now. Before being asked, Carlisle told reporters that he sees Smith as an immediate starter, noting his blend of intelligence, maturity and athleticism. “We believe he’s going to be a tremendous player for us and right away,” he said.
  • Carlisle added that the Mavs definitely preferred Smith over French point guard Frank Ntilikina, who was taken by the Knicks at No. 8. The coach said there was “uproarious” applause in the Dallas draft room when New York’s pick was announced (Twitter link).
  • In negotiations for Jimmy Butler, the Celtics refused to part with their No. 3 pick this year or the Nets‘ pick for 2018, according to K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Butler was shipped to Minnesota in a deal involving the No. 7 pick, and the Celtics may send Jayson Tatum, whom they drafted at No. 3, to Indiana in a trade for Paul George.
  • Cavaliers veterans Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson may retire this offseason, relays Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). If they do, it will reduce the salary commitment in Cleveland and open up two roster spots, giving the new GM some flexibility. Frye, 34, made more than $7.4MM this season, while Jefferson, who turned 37 yesterday, collected a little more than $2.6MM.

Celtics’ Paul George Talks Stalled After Gaining Momentum

8:07pm: Discussions between the Pacers and Celtics on George have stalled for now, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

7:06pm: The Pacers and Celtics are engaged in “serious” discussions about a potential Paul George trade, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). While the sides remain apart on a potential deal, talks have gained momentum, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Celtics used their third overall pick tonight to select Jayson Tatum. If the Pacers and C’s can come to an agreement on a George deal, it’s not clear whether or not Tatum will be involved in the swap.

George is one of the top trade candidates available now that Jimmy Butler is now off the board, with the Bulls having reached an agreement to send him to the Timberwolves. Before finalizing that deal, the Pacers and Wolves discussed a deal involving George, tweets Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis. The Pacers asked for Zach LaVine and more in return, which Minnesota refused, opting for Butler instead.

The Rockets also haven’t given up their pursuit of George, tweets Marc Stein of I’d expect the Lakers to check back in as well if a deal appears close.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Nuggets, Suns Discuss Bledsoe, Mudiay

6:01pm: Discussions between the Suns and Bulls on Bledsoe involved the No. 16 overall pick, tweets Michael Scotto of Basketball Insiders.

5:39pm: The Suns currently have no trades on tap, and are preparing to use the No. 4 pick in the draft, tweets TNT’s David Aldridge.

5:25pm: The Nuggets and Suns have discussed a trade that would send Eric Bledsoe to Denver, with Emmanuel Mudiay and the No. 13 pick going to Phoenix, league sources tell Chris Haynes of (Twitter link). No deal is imminent, but talks remain “fluid,” per Haynes.

ESPN’s Chad Ford first reported that the Nuggets and Bulls were engaged with the Suns today on possible Bledsoe trade scenarios, while Gery Woelfel of The Racine Journal Times tweeted that Phoenix was still looking to make a “major splash” with Bledsoe and/or the No. 4 pick.

According to Ford, if the Suns use the fourth overall pick on De’Aaron Fox, it will likely signal that they found a taker on Bledsoe. If Phoenix isn’t able to complete a Bledsoe trade tonight, Josh Jackson is the more probable pick at No. 4, assuming he’s still on the board, says Ford.

Denver would be an interesting landing spot for Bledsoe, who averaged a career-best 21.1 PPG and 6.3 APG in 66 games last year, before he was benched down the stretch by the tanking Suns. Although Mudiay is a former seventh overall pick, his development has been slow so far, leaving the Nuggets seeking a possible long-term alternative at the point guard position.

Timberwolves Remain In Mix For Jimmy Butler

The Timberwolves and Bulls have been engaged throughout the day on a potential Jimmy Butler trade, Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania reported on The Vertical’s live show tonight. According to Wojnarowski, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are among the players that have been discussed in those talks, along with draft picks.

While any executives around the league believe the most likely scenario involves Butler staying in Chicago, those execs believe that if the All-NBA forward goes anywhere tonight, it will be Minnesota, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link).

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders passes along an interesting note on the Timberwolves, tweeting that the NBA has confirmed Nikola Pekovic‘s 2016/17 salary is no longer on the club’s cap. That means that Minnesota has about $24MM in cap room tonight, which could be very convenient when it comes to getting a trade done — the team wouldn’t necessarily have to match salaries for incoming players.

The Celtics, Suns, Nuggets, and Cavaliers have also been linked to Butler this week, though Boston isn’t currently believed to be in the mix.

Celtics Not Currently Engaged In Jimmy Butler Talks

Trade discussions involving Jimmy Butler continue to take place, but those talks don’t include the Celtics, and haven’t “for a while,” according to Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald (Twitter link).

[RELATED: Five Key Offseason Questions: Boston Celtics]

Bulpett’s report doesn’t necessarily mean that the Celtics are out of the Butler sweepstakes entirely — if the Bulls begin to move close to a deal with another team, it’s possible they’d call Boston to see if the C’s want to make another offer. However, at this time, it appears that the Celtics aren’t actively exploring a potential Butler deal.

The Nuggets, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, and Suns are among the teams that have reportedly spoken to the Bulls about Butler. However, since the All-NBA forward still has two years left on his contract and prefers to remain in Chicago, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Chicago ends up not moving him tonight.

Although the Bulls are willing to make a deal if the right offer arises, the offers to this point have been “underwhelming,” sources tell K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune (Twitter link).

Trade Rumors: Nuggets, Butler, Dudley, Drummond

The Nuggets, who spoke to the Bulls at the February trade deadline about Jimmy Butler, have engaged with Chicago again as the draft approaches, a source tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN. According to Goodman, any offer Denver makes obviously wouldn’t include Nikola Jokic, but would feature multiple young players and draft picks.

Butler, of course, has reportedly indicated that he wants to remain with the Bulls. And while a fondness for Chicago and his Bulls teammates may play a part in that stance, he’s also aware that he’ll no longer be eligible for a potential Designated Veteran Extension if he’s traded. Butler would be eligible for that super-max extension if he earns an All-NBA nod next year, but only if he remains on the Bulls, which is the “real reason” he doesn’t want to be moved, tweets Chris Broussard of Fox Sports 1.

Here are a few more trade rumors from around the NBA as the draft inches closer:

  • The Suns have talked to the Pelicans about a potential Jared Dudley trade, according to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 (Twitter link), who adds that any deal would likely involve second-round picks. New Orleans may not have the cap room to absorb Dudley’s $10MM salary outright, so the Pelicans may have to send out a contract or two in a possible swap.
  • Although there have been whispers about Sacramento’s interest in Andre Drummond, a deal between the Kings and Pistons remains unlikely at this point, tweets Sam Amick of USA Today. Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press adds (via Twitter) that he has been told multiple times that any Drummond trade is unlikely, though that could change.
  • Amick passes along another note on the Kings, tweeting that while Sacramento plans to use pick at No. 5, there’s a chance the team will move the No. 10 selection in order to land a player and a later pick.
  • A source tells Jason Quick of (Twitter link) that there’s “no way” the Trail Blazers acquire LaMarcus Aldridge from the Spurs.
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