NEW ORLEANS—The trade talk is swirling and unavoidable, as it’ll be a topic of discussion through All-Star weekend as Jimmy Butler enters his third All-Star weekend and first as a starter.
Certainly not the only one who has to deal with such a thing, as Carmelo Anthony has a bigger mess on his hands with the Knicks and Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins is always mentioned as being in the periphery of changing addresses.
In his true politically-correct mode, Butler couldn’t decide if the constant trade talk was a compliment, a distraction or none of the above.
“I don’t know. I think that as long as somebody is reading, talking about something it makes for a great story,” Butler said at All-Star availability in New Orleans Friday afternoon. “I don’t know if I deserve to be traded? I don’t know. It’s not my job. It’s my job to play basketball to the best of my abilities.”
He took slight umbrage to the notion that the Bulls were a better team when Butler got there and before he emerged as an All-Star player compared to them hovering around .500 for the last two seasons.
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“So I should get worse and the team will be better?” he queried.
But there is a big school of thought that the return on a Butler trade will be better for the Bulls in the long run, as if he’s holding the development of the franchise back with his play.
The Boston Celtics are Butler’s biggest suitor but certainly haven’t put all their resources to the center of the table, leaving Butler dangling in a sense. A reporter who worked for the Celtics brought up the emergence of Isaiah Thomas, the NBA’s leading scorer, and called Thomas “a teammate” of Butler’s.
Knowing how the comment would be taken if it wasn’t corrected, Butler said Thomas was his teammate “this weekend” and not trying to speak any speculation into existence.
Although he spoke glowingly of Thomas when prompted, he wasn’t going to give any conversation any more real estate than necessary. He hears enough trade talk on the regular and it’s hard for even the best person to tune it out.
“I don’t pay attention to it. Obviously it comes up. Control what you can control,” Butler said. “You can’t control what people write, what people think should happen. Majority of the time, it doesn’t happen. Sometimes it does, majority of the time it doesn’t.”