NBA Rumors: Timberwolves Eye Jimmy Butler For Zach LaVine, No. 5 Pick

NBA Rumors: Timberwolves Eye Jimmy Butler For Zach LaVine, No. 5 Pick
Jimmy Butler Disney/ABC / Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
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Minnesota Timberwolves will offer Chicago Bulls a package of guard Zach LaVine and the No. 5 draft pick to try and re-unite all-star wing Jimmy Butler with new team president and coach Tim Thibodeau, according to a league source.


Butler and Thibodeau were very fond of each other during the latter’s days in Chicago. Butler, who was drafted with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft, turned into a bona fide superstar under the tutelage of Thibodeau. However, Butler’s game hasn’t translated under the leadership of Fred Hoiberg, who replaced Thibodeau as Bulls coach last offseason.

Jimmy Butler unhappy with Fred Hoiberg?

In fact, Butler hasn’t refrained from publicly criticizing Hoiberg, blaming the new coach for Chicago’s lack of intensity on the defensive side of the floor and the team’s inability to make the postseason for the first time since 2007-08. Chicago finished with a 41-41 record in Hoiberg’s first gig as coach.

The potential trade makes sense for both teams. Timberwolves, loaded with a promising young core that includes the two previous Rookie of the Year winners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, are just one all-star away from becoming a legitimate playoff team in the West. Butler would bring veteran leadership and perimeter defense – facets that every aspiring playoff team needs.

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Chicago is looking to move past the Thibodeau Era and the first step towards that is letting Joakim Noah walk in free agency and trading Butler. It’s no secret that Noah and Butler are yet to recover from Thibodeau’s exit and would much rather get a fresh start by going elsewhere.

Related Story: Celtics Keen On Butler, Willing To Part With No. 3 Pick

During the team’s exit press conference in April, Bulls executives John Paxson and Gar Forman let it be known that Butler wasn’t on “the untouchables list” and could be had with the right offer.  “We’ve got to explore all options and I don’t think there’s anything that’s off the table when you have a disappointing year like this,” Forman said when asked about a potential Butler trade.

Bulls high on Kris Dunn

Recently, Bulls reporter KC Johnson of Chicago Tribune revealed that Bulls are high on Providence product Kris Dunn as their point guard of the future, seeing as Derrick Rose would be an unrestricted free agent next season. “This year’s draft isn’t as deep at point guard. If the Bulls don’t trade up, one player sources say intrigues them — Providence combo guard Kris Dunn — certainly would be gone at No. 14,” revealed Johnson.

By acquiring Minnesota’s No. 5 draft pick, the Bulls could possibly acquire either Dunn, Kentucky guard Jamaal Murray or Sooners sensation Buddy Hield as a longterm replacement for Jimmy Butler. In LaVine, Hoiberg will get a potential all-star who averaged an impressive tally of 14 points and 3 assists in his sophomore season. It’s unlikely that Timberwolves get a better deal for Butler.

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