The Timberwolves will send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall selection in Thursday’s draft to Chicago, per K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Butler, 26, spent his first six NBA seasons in Chicago. Drafted with the final pick in the 2011 first round, he slowly evolved from seldom-used reserve to one of the league’s best two-way forces. He’s made the All-Star team each of the last three seasons and was named to the All-NBA third team for the first time in 2016-17.
But it’s been a bumpy rise. Butler’s relationship with former backcourt mate Derrick Rose was tense before the latter left last offseason, and Butler never jelled with coach Fred Hoiberg. The Bulls are just 83-81 under Hoiberg, and the team is looking to give him a legitimate chance to build a roster in his own vision.
“I believe in the guys in this locker room, yeah, but I also believe that we probably have to be coached a lot harder at times,” Butler told reporters in December 2015. “I know Fred is a laid-back guy and I respect him for that, but when guys aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do, you gotta get on guys, myself included. You gotta do what you’re supposed to do when you’re out there playing basketball.”
Moving Butler is a clear signal the Bulls are moving forward with the team under Hoiberg’s vision. It’s also a sign that additional moves are almost certain to come. Dwyane Wade could wind up on the trade block after opting into his contract as well. The Bulls will also likely move on from Rajon Rondo, who has a team option on his contract.
Butler will be reunited with former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who helped develop him for his first four seasons. Thibodeau appears to be making a concerted effort in his second season running the Timberwolves to make a playoff push, and getting a star in his prime is a good way to do it.
LaVine, Dunn and the No. 7 pick is a mighty haul, especially with LaVine developing into a solid two-way player and Dunn looking like the franchise’s point guard of the future when they took him No. 5 overall a year ago.
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