In the run-up to and through the early course of the NBA Draft Thursday the rumors were flying — the Chicago Bulls were talking Jimmy Butler trade with Minnesota and Boston. And things were getting serious.
As you would expect, Bulls GM Gar Forman denied all of that after the draft ended. Here’s the quote, via Vincent Goodwill at CSNChicago.com (video of it is above).
“During the draft, we started getting some texts and saw something on TV that we were in heated talks with somebody, I don’t know what it was saying,” Forman said. “We were in no talks with anybody. There was no discussion during the entire draft this evening as far as Jimmy Butler was concerned.
“We have never made a call in regards to Jimmy Butler. We’ve talked about, we value Jimmy Butler, we’re very happy to have Jimmy Butler. We’ve got a phenomenal basketball player who was an All-Star and All-NBA defender, is still young, obviously we’ve got him under contract long-term, those are all positive. He, again, is what we want to be. We’ve said this all along. We like Jimmy Butler, we did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that’s our job to listen to calls. We get calls on a lot of our players and that’s stuff that happens all throughout the league.”
It’s the semantics of the NBA: They didn’t “shop” him, meaning they didn’t call other team and offer him, but they “listened” to offers. The result is ultimately the same.
The Bulls have moved Derrick Rose, and it would make sense to build around Butler — a two-way All-Star on a reasonable contract. To trade him another team should take a monster offer — the rumored Zach LaVine and the No. 5 pick should not be enough. How much of that was real, how much of that was the Bulls and Thibodeau trying to make each other look bad, and how much of all this was someone in Boston leaking Butler rumors to try and get the Sixers to offer more for Boston’s No. 3 pick you can decide for yourself.
If the Bulls move Butler they go into full rebuild mode, so they better get a boatload of picks back. Otherwise, the rebuild is much faster if you center it around a cornerstone piece like Butler.