8:32pm: Butler’s preference to remain in Chicago has been made clear to the Bulls’ front office in addition to the Cavs, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today adds (via Twitter) that a trade between Chicago and Cleveland appears unlikely at this point. Still, Johnson tweets that the Bulls remain active in Butler talks.
7:28pm: The Cavaliers have been notified that Butler would like to stay with the Bulls and would be reluctant to commit to a long-term future in Cleveland, sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. If the Cavs are able to complete a deal for Butler, I imagine they’d do so without a long-term commitment from the forward, but his desire to remain in Chicago is still a factor they’ll have to consider.
4:33pm: Just one day after Bulls sources suggested that the team likely wouldn’t move Jimmy Butler this week, the odds of a trade appear to be increasing. The Bulls have typically just been willing to listen on Butler inquiries to gauge his value, but they’re now making outgoing calls to teams about the star forward, according to Vincent Goodwill of CSNChicago.com.
According to Goodwill, the Celtics and Cavaliers are the frontrunners to land Butler if a deal gets done this week. The Suns have been “doing due diligence,” league sources tell Goodwill. The Nuggets were somewhat involved on Butler at the trade deadline, per CSN’s report, though it’s not clear if they’re jumping into the fray this time around. The Timberwolves were also mentioned on Monday as a possible trade partner for Chicago.
Butler has publicly expressed a desire to remain in Chicago, but Goodwill writes that the relationship between the All-NBA forward and head coach Fred Hoiberg hasn’t been “fruitful,” which is one reason the Bulls appear to be legitimately considering moving Butler. Goodwill also suggests that the club may be reluctant to pay Butler a super-max Designated Veteran Extension if he becomes eligible for one next summer.
According to Goodwill, the Bulls were “rebuffed” on an offer to the Celtics for the No. 3 overall pick, straight up. I would expect Chicago to be seeking more than just that one pick in return for Butler, so if that’s true, it’s a surprise. Goodwill adds that bringing the Cavs to the negotiating table figures to increase the quality of the offers for Butler.
An earlier report indicated that the Cavs were attempting earlier this week to work out a three-team Butler trade that would see a third team receive Kevin Love, with a high lottery pick going from that club to the Bulls.
Although the Suns were believed to be the third team in that scenario, and John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 confirms (via Twitter) that the Cavs had interest in Phoenix’s No. 4 pick, Gambadoro says those discussions didn’t involve Love (Twitter link). While that may be true, it would be virtually impossible for the Cavs to pry away a top-five pick for the Bulls without using Love, so I have to think he’d be involved somehow.
Those Butler discussions with the Cavs took place before GM David Griffin departed from the franchise. However, according to Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com, Griffin left behind the framework for possible deals involving Butler or Paul George, so owner Dan Gilbert and assistant GM Koby Altman – essentially the Cavs’ acting GM – could continue to work on those deals.