Last night was crazy for Chicago Bulls and NBA fans. In a day where some deals occurred earlier in the afternoon, things heated up as the draft started. Jimmy Butler was seemingly on the table. The Bulls were heavily linked with the Boston Celtics in a deal involving the #3 pick, and then with the Timberwolves, who held the #5 pick. Let's take some time to recap what the talk was and the rumors that were swirling around.
One big thing to note is that these are rumors and reports, come of which conflicted with eachother. There is no concrete evidence that the Bulls did/didn't do anything here. So with that in mind, let's take a look at the hour of madness.
Boston Celtics :
The Celtics had been reportedly after Butler for a while, but the Bulls were seen to be not budging though the Celtics had plenty of future assets to offer.
As the Celtics #3 pick came around, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports and the Vertical reported that Chicago was involved in advanced talks with the Celtics. He later reported that the Bulls were involved in talks with Philly and Boston for that pick.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the deal is centered around Jimmy Butler and Kris Dunn. But Chicago didm't like the Celtics offer. He also added that both Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley were discussed in a potential deal between Chicago and Boston, and later that the C's were also still talking to the 76ers as well.
Philadelphia reportedly offered Nerlens Noel, the #24 pick, the #26 pick, and Robert Convington to the Celtics for the #3 pick. David Aldridge of TNT reported that talks between Chicago and Boston were 'far along' hours before the draft but things have changed.
The Celtics wound up selecting Jaylen Brown from Cal with that #3 pick in the draft, ending their own rumors once and for all.
Minnesota Timberwolves :
Just as the rumors that the Bulls were shopping Butler to Boston died down, another team popped up in trade talks with the Bulls: Tom Thibodeau's Timberwolves. Ian Begley of ESPN New York led off the night saying the Bulls had previously turned down a Butler deal for the #5 pick and Zach Lavine. Perhaps with Kris Dunn lasting until that #5 pick, things changed. Marc Stein reported that the Bulls were aggressively trying to trade for the 5th, but the teams had some issues with the trade. According to Shams Charania of the Vertical, talks between the Bulls and T-Wolves broke down because the Bulls wanted Zach LaVine along with the 5th pick, not Ricky Rubio. (though as stated earlier, the report was the Bulls were the ones turning down a LaVine+#5 package...)
Then minutes later, Stein stoked the flames saying talkes it picked back up again. KC Johnson added to the reports of talks resurfacing as he noted that the Bulls were still debating about asking the T-Wolves for Dunn in the package they would get back, adding that the Bulls were ready for a full rebuild. Then Woj furthered the reports, adding to the nerves of Bulls fans everywhere, couple with Stein also reporting that optimism was growing on both sides and they believed that both teams would make a deal soon and that the trade was in advanced talks. Vincent Goodwill of CSN Chicago also chimed in and reported that a deal "could be" done between the two teams.
But then things began to get wacky again, when David David Aldridge reported that he was told that there is "no chance" a deal gets done now. Goodwill sort of went back on his earlier tweet, later saying he was hearing 'conflicting' information, with one source saying there was "nothing to" any Butler-Wolves discussion.
After all that, the Bulls then drafted Denzel Valentine and the talks died down for good.
ESPN sources say Wolves haven't surrendered their Jimmy Butler quest, but longer this night goes suggests Bulls can't bear to part with him— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 24, 2016
Spin After the picks:
After talks had died down, more information came out. KC Johnson reported that the talks between the T-Wolves and the Bulls were of "much lesser extent" than the ones with Boston. Stein re-capped the talks with the TWolves here, saying Wiggins was never on the table for the Wolves and 'anybody else' wasn't enough.
And then, Gar Forman's press conference (in a building where Jimmy Butler also showed up during the night) was the complete opposite of what anybody reported about the Bulls that night. As reported by Johnson, Forman said that the Bulls were never shopping Butler and they were just taking calls. So 'advanced talks' with the T-Wolves and Celtics were a fabrication, or Forman is doing what GMs do and lying.
Or maybe it was all misinformation with a purpose?
All in all, it was a nerve-wracking time during the draft for Bulls fans as they reportedly came within minutes of, in my opinion, giving Butler away for nothing, especially with the supposed Minnesota trade. Like Ricky wrote a few days ago, the Bulls had to get a lot back for Butler if they were to trade him. Trading him for anything less than a massive deal did not make any sense. That's what made the Minnesota deal so perplexing. If Chicago really wanted to trade Butler then they should have asked for something more than the #5 pick and Zach LaVine. That would be an absolute steal for Minnesota. but thankfully the Bulls (or TWolves, if you believe some reports) didn't pull the trigger on the deal.
Now that Chicago has seemed to give off the message that they are keeping Butler, it makes this offseason and the next offseason even more important. They aren't blowing this thing up and doing a full rebuild. Chicago has to make sure that they drafted the right player in Valentine and make some good deals in free agency. This will be an interesting off-season for the Bulls as they look to move on from their older trio of Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, and Joakim Noah. It's officially Jimmy Butler's team now and let's see how the Bulls put pieces around him.