Are Bulls shopping Jimmy Butler? Despite report, don’t bet on it.

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Sean Highkin, who covers the Chicago Bulls for the Athletic, joined us for the PBT Podcast. One of my questions: Would the Bulls trade Jimmy Butler?

Highkin said only if an offer absolutely blew them away. And even then they’d pause. The day after the Bulls move Derrick Rose over the summer they considered trading Butler and stripping the team down for what would be a total rebuild, Highkin said. However, the organization was not sold on that direction, then the Dwyane Wade situation started to get real, so they returned to more of a win-now mode focused around Butler (for example, getting Rajon Rondo). There’s clearly some work to do, but the idea was to keep Butler as a core piece.

So why would they trade him now?

Except that’s what Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report said the Bulls are thinking — they are shopping Butler. Bucher cited a “league source” who said the Bulls let it be known Butler could be had for the right price.

“Shopping” is a strong word in NBA parlance — it means you’re actively trying to move him, not just testing the waters.

Highkin responded with a piece at The Athletic saying that is not the case.

A Bulls source told The Athletic that, despite a Thursday report from Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report, the team is not currently shopping Butler or fielding offers for the two-time All-Star.

I like Bucher, and no doubt a reliable source told him this, but I tend to believe the Highkin side of the story here (and not just because he used to work for me). Rather, it is more logical. For one, Butler is under contract for a couple more years before he can opt out, what is the advantage of moving him now?

Butler is a top 15 or 20 player in the NBA, at age 27 and having the best year of his career – the Bulls are not going to be able to get equal value back. So again, why do it?

Trading Butler means a rebuild, which means Wade is gone because he’s not sticking around to play babysitter to young pups on a bad team for a few years. Even if he is a Chicago guy. Also, exactly what young pieces are on the Bulls that make you think “this guy is right for a rebuild?” Doug McDermott? Bobby Portis? Nikola Mirotic? Denzel Valentine? Those guys have roles in the NBA, but if that becomes the go-to, it’s going to some rough years ahead. Also, looking at those guys, you want Gar Forman and company drafting for a rebuild?

The Bulls may be making trade deadline moves. Taj Gibson could be had. Rondo will be shopped (then, when that likely fails, bought out).

But Butler? Don’t bet on it.