The speculation was rampant outside of the Bulls’ war room but inside of it, the Bulls’ front office wasn’t focused on the speculation surrounding Jimmy Butler trade talks.
To make matters even more bizarre—or humorous depending on your point of view—Butler was in the Advocate Center, as the new Olympian was getting a massage in the practice facility during the draft.
Either way, it left Bulls GM Gar Forman having to answer for the reports that the Bulls were indeed engaged in talks with the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves—teams who almost openly covet Butler for various reasons.
“During the draft, we started getting some texts and saw something on TV that we were in heated talks with somebody, I don’t know what it was saying,” Forman said. “We were in no talks with anybody. There was no discussion during the entire draft this evening as far as Jimmy Butler was concerned.
“We have never made a call in regards to Jimmy Butler. We’ve talked about, we value Jimmy Butler, we’re very happy to have Jimmy Butler. We’ve got a phenomenal basketball player who was an All-Star and All-NBA defender, is still young, obviously we’ve got him under contract long-term, those are all positive. He, again, is what we want to be. We’ve said this all along. We like Jimmy Butler, we did not shop Jimmy Butler. Did we receive calls? Of course we did, and that’s our job to listen to calls. We get calls on a lot of our players and that’s stuff that happens all throughout the league.”
The talks centered around the Celtics and Timberwolves’ pursuit of Butler and the Bulls’ desire to move up in the draft to select Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who wound up being taken fifth by the Timberwolves.
“Obviously we liked him. He’s a very good player,” Forman said. “I think there were really a lot of good players in this draft and we had talks like we do, again, about moving up, about moving back, we had some talks where we were moving out of the draft.”
The Bulls wound up staying at 14 and selecting Denzel Valentine from Michigan State. A trade of Butler would nearly signal an all-out rebuild, one the Bulls aren’t quite ready to do.
After trading Derrick Rose yesterday, it would’ve been an almost unprecedented move, jettisoning two max players in a span of 24 hours.
The Celtics had multiple picks in this draft and according to reports, decided to put Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder into trade talks this time around, something they didn’t do at the trade deadline this past February.
With the Timberwolves, sources told CSNChicago.com the Timberwolves offered Dunn, promising swingman Zach LaVine and a second-round pick for Butler. But Forman says those offers never made it his way, and believed it’s just media speculation as opposed to truth.
“I think when you have a special player like Jimmy, in order really to take a hard look at something it’s got to be something you think is going to knock your socks off, something that’s really special,” Forman said. “And we never felt we were presented with anything where we would consider moving Jimmy.”
For the Bulls to move a player like Butler, one would have to believe it would take more than the Timberwolves’ package—especially considering former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is heading up basketball operations, thus making that franchise the last one the Bulls would ever want to trade with given their rocky history.
With the Celtics having a horde of lottery picks this year and a valuable 2017 first-round pick courtesy of the Brooklyn Nets, the Bulls would likely ask for every single asset the Celtics own, and it didn’t seem likely the Celtics were willing to part with everything they had, even to acquire a player of Butler’s caliber.
And what’s more, Forman doesn’t believe he has to repair or clear anything up with Butler considering the rampant reports from multiple outlets claiming the Bulls were in serious discussions on moving their two-time All-Star.
“We’ve talked about, there’s so many false reports out there that you can’t respond to them all,” Forman said. “In this day and age, and we’ve read a number of things that are comical, that are absolutely false. And I just said, if we respond every time there’s a source or a rumor or somebody saying anything, and then we don’t respond once, are people going to think that’s true? All’s I can tell you is exactly what happened. We never made a single call. We’re not looking to move Jimmy.”