Bulls select Denzel Valentine with No. 14 overall pick

Bulls select Denzel Valentine with No. 14 overall pick

On a night where the Bulls have been rumored to be involved in some of the bigger blockbuster moves, they took the safer route with their first-round draft pick by selecting guard-forward Denzel Valentine from Michigan State.

The Bulls have been engaged in talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves about a trade for Jimmy Butler, according to multiple reports, but until that situation is resolved, they selected Valentine with the 14th pick, the last in the draft lottery.

Valentine was the national player of the year, beating out Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield, for a Michigan State team ranked in the top five all season. Valentine has the capability to play all three perimeter positions and was arguably the best all-around player in college basketball, averaging nearly eight rebounds and eight assists in addition to scoring nearly 20 points a night.

His ability to run the offense and shoot from long range (45 percent from 3) was probably a strong selling point for a Bulls team that needs perimeter help. Valentine isn’t a natural point guard but is a facilitator who can initiate offense, qualities that had the Bulls linked with Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson and Vanderbilt’s Wade Baldwin IV.

“I was getting nervous there, pick after pick and you’re wondering,” Valentine said to ESPN after being selected. “I’m so glad I’m going to the Bulls and I’m gonna give it my all. Gonna get this process going.”

Valentine was nervous in part due to his knees being red-flagged after taking physicals with prospective teams, dropping him from being a pick right outside the top-10 to perhaps sliding out the lottery altogether. Valentine had knee surgery seven years ago as a high-schooler and after an awkward fall in December, had minor knee surgery on his left knee, causing him to miss a few games. In his four-year career at Michigan State, he played in 144 of a possible 148 games.

Valentine was the third senior taken in the draft, a rarity so many taken so early in the first round.

His ability to adapt on the offensive end, especially his court vision, has been attractive to teams.

Report: Butler camp upset with "ownership mouthpieces"


Report: Butler camp upset with "ownership mouthpieces"

In a report released Friday morning, Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley stated that sources close to Jimmy Butler's camp think that "ownership mouthpieces" have "manufactured" rumors that Butler's number one concern in demanding a trade was money.

In response, the Butler camp has stated that Butler's reasons for wanting to leave are about having a serious shot at competing:

According to the source, this is about a philosophy in making an impact in the Western Conference, and in Butler’s mind you can’t run down a dynasty like Golden State when two of the so-called dogs in the pack are in fact kittens.

-Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley

With the nature of public trade demands, it is tough to sort out what is true. And with Butler helping Minnesota end the NBA's longest playoff drought, it is clear that the Timberwolves have enough talent to be a playoff contender.

None of the team's on Butler's list of preferred destinations would have a serious shot at taking down the Warriors, or even making an Eastern Conference playoff run.

From the outside, it would appear that reported friction between Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns is the true reason the rift has become this big of an issue. But Butler maintains that this is not the case.

If Butler is not moved by Monday's media day in Minnesota, things could get (even more) messy.

With the ongoing public feuds between Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Jackson, the Butler camp and the TWolves organization, and the Towns contract extension situation, more drama is the last thing Minnesota  needs.

Thibodeau doesn't want to trade Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor getting involved


Thibodeau doesn't want to trade Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor getting involved

The Jimmy Butler saga continued on Friday, taking an interesting turn when ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Minnesota's front office had not been trying hard to trade Butler, but that in fact, they were doing quite the opposite:  

It is quite easy to believe that President of Basketball Operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau would be reluctant to move him.

They have an extensive history together, and Butler was the driving force behind Minnesota ending the NBA's longest playoff drought. But the thought of holding on to Butler past Monday's media day seems outrageous given the amount of negative attention already surrounding the franchise. 

Thibodeau is the decision-maker in this matter, but Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor could step in should this situation drag on longer, as he has in the past. Taylor gave the final OK when the franchise traded past stars Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love, and he will certainly get involved if Thibodeau is turning down quality trade offers. And reports state that Taylor is getting involved, as they likely try to get a deal done soon.

Thibodeau has multiple years left on his contract, so it is unlikely Minnesota lets him go, even if he takes a decidedly anti-trade stance on Butler.

Butler has made his list of preferred teams known, but as we saw in the Kyrie Irving deal, those list rarely are a factor. No matter what, it will be tough for Minnesota to get a deal comparable to what Chicago received for Butler, seeing as he is now older, and still somewhat injury-prone. But making sure to wait for the best trade available will heavily impact the long-term outlook of the Timberwolves.

Denying that you have interest in trading a player who has publicly demanded a trade is perhaps the most on-brand thing Thibodeau has ever done. But for once, he may be thinking about the future, as this lack of interest in trading Butler could just be a tactic to further drive up the asking price. 

Either way, stay Thibs, Thibs.