Thursday, 04 June, 2020

Timberwolves acquire All-Star Butler from Bulls

Vera Richards | 24 June, 2017, 01:29

In reuniting Butler with his old coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls get Kris Dunn, Zach LeVine and the No. 7 pick in the draft, which resulted in Lauri Markkanen, from Finland, coming to the Bulls. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.

Thibodeau after being selected as the team president and coach last summer was vocal on bringing Butler on the Timberwolves. Chicago originally drafted Butler with the 30th overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Marquette University. The star players bickered with each other. Despite a spirited effort, the Bulls were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.

In one trade, the Bulls might have found their future starting backcourt. He averaged 3.8 points, 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 78 games last season. But they got awful value for their best player, and set the franchise back without truly committing to a rebuild. Markkanen will add a 3-point threat to a team that was 28th in the league in 3-point shooting percentage. And LaVine wasn't even around to take playing time.

For the coach that desperately wanted a defensive-minded veteran to set the tone for a talented young roster, and for the player who only truly realized what he had in that hard-driving leader after he was gone.

Thibodeau was able to acquire Butler without giving up Andrew Wiggins.

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Still, there were signs throughout the season that the Wolves were ready to take the next step, even as they struggled to close out games, blowing leads in the fourth quarter on a regular basis. Instead, the Bulls gambled by trading away one of the league's best two-way players. He averaged only 8 point, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists per-36 minutes, becoming one of just 34 rookies in the 3-point era to play at least 1,300 minutes and record a player efficiency rating below 9.0 in the process. He'll help on the offensive end, but more importantly, his familiarity with Thibodeau from their time in Chicago will allow the Timberwolves to find their defensive identity.

The two sides engages on serious discussions on draft night a year ago, almost reaching a deal that would have included LaVine and Dunn, a player the Bulls were very high on coming out of Providence, for Butler.

USA TODAY's Jeff Zillgitt reported the Timberwolves are still trying to trade Rubio after the recent move to land Butler.

"The thing you can't overlook with (Butler) is his play making", Thibodeau said.

Former Arizona forward Lauri Markkanen appears headed to Chicago as the No. 7 pick in the NBA Draft. However, the Timberwolves pulled it off and get a superstar in the trade. That was before Butler got dealt. He's going to have to be uber-effective offensively to achieve star status.

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