Bulls

Tom Thibodeau reels off 10 Jimmy Butler compliments in 30 seconds

Tom Thibodeau reels off 10 Jimmy Butler compliments in 30 seconds

Bring the coolers, it's reunion time in Minnesota. 

After Thursday's blockbuster trade between the Bulls and Timberwolves, Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau are reunited. We'll find out in a few months whether or not it will feel so good, but it's an exciting transaction for a Timberwolves franchise that hasn't reached the postseason in 13 seasons. 

Butler and Thibs spent four years together in Chicago, yielding a respectable degree of success. On one hand, Butler rose from role player to top-15 stud, conflating his high motor with sustained offensive improvement to become an NBA All-Star. 

On the other, Thibs' relationship with Gar Forman and John Paxson rapidly trekked south, leading to his firing and replacement with Fred Hoiberg. 

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Butler insisted he had nothing bad to say about Hoiberg, but it was clear their personalities didn't fully mesh. Now, he'll be back with a familiar, intense face. 

The results expected for attempt two of the Thibs-Butler project are up in the air, but when the Timberwolves head coach addressed the media on Friday, he had nothing but positive things to say about Butler. 

In less than 30 seconds of time, Thibs lauded Butler's growth and ability with 10 swift compliments: 

1. "The thing that you can't overlook with him is his playmaking."

2. "You're getting a two-way player." 

3. "You're getting a guy that can score a lot of different ways." 

4. "He can guard multiple positions." 

5. "He can actually guard four positions well." 

6. "He makes big shots late." 

7. "He plays the right way." 

8. "He's tough." 

9. "Practices hard."

10. "He's smart."  

His conclusion? "We were excited to get him." 

If you're instantly jealous, take the consolation that Thibs was sincere about how difficult it was to lose Zach Lavine and Kris Dunn. 

"We hated to part ways with Zach and Kris," he told reporters. "To get a player like Jimmy, you have to give good players up and we did." 

CSN's Mark Strotman also provided an in-depth scouting report on LaVine and Dunn

As for the assumed awkwardness between the teams' front offices, Thibs echoed Gar/Pax sentiments. Both believed negotiations were "very professional." 

And with that, both franchises have clearly chosen a direction. 

Mark Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

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USA TODAY

Mark Schanowski's NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

The NBA Draft Lottery on May 14 is the day all Bulls fans are anticipating, but why wait to start scouting the top college prospects?

This is the first of our weekly NBA Draft Big Boards, and I think it's pretty safe to assume the name at the top isn't going to change.

Duke's Zion Williamson possesses the combination of size, skill and athleticism we haven't seen since the days of Charles Barkley. At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Williamson is capable of end-to-end dominance. Not only is he a spectacular dunker, but he has above average ball handling skills for a man his size and can beat defenders off the dribble. Williamson projects as an elite scorer and shot blocker at the NBA level. The only questions for NBA teams: Can he defend at the small forward position and can he develop a consistent 3-point shot?

Williamson's Duke teammate R.J. Barrett will be a tremendous consolation prize for the team that doesn't get Williamson. The 6-foot-7 lefty is a versatile scorer with a knack for getting to the free throw line, drawing comparisons to Rockets' MVP James Harden. He’s currently averaging 23.4 points per game for the nation’s most talented team. Barrett should be able to defend at the 2 and 3 spots in the NBA, and would be a perfect fit for the Bulls at the small forward spot.

The No. 3 spot is wide open and could change frequently as we go through the rest of the NCAA's regular season. You won't catch Murray State games on television very often, but the Racers have one of the country's most dynamic players in 6-foot-3 point guard Ja Morant. He reminds scouts of Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox with his speed and ability to finish at the rim, and if you watch his game tape you can see some of the physical attributes that led to Dwyane Wade flying up draft boards back in 2003.

I had a chance to watch Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver play Wednesday night against Iowa State. Culver finished with 20 points and 16 rebounds with a mid-range game similar to DeMar DeRozan. Culver isn't a great outside shooter at this point, but at 6-foot-5 he has the size to get to the basket with a power game that will remind Bulls fans of Jimmy Butler.

Indiana's Romeo Langford is one of the nation's top ranked freshmen. He's a volume scorer in the mold of Zach LaVine, but has been inconsistent from the college 3-point line, shooting 24 percent from beyond the arc. At 6-foot-6, Langford is projected to play both the shooting guard and small forward positions in the pros, and could develop into a 20-point per game scorer.

Duke's Cam Reddish had been running third in most mock drafts early in the college season, but his ice cold shooting from the field and 3-point line has him dropping here. At 6-foot-8, Reddish has prototype small forward size and the shooting mechanics to be a solid 3-and-D guy in the NBA.

Much like Romeo Langford, Kentucky's Keldon Johnson projects as a versatile scorer, with the size to play both the 2 and 3 spots in the NBA. With all the McDonald's All-Americans at Kentucky, Johnson has emerged as John Calipari's go-to scorer, averaging 14.6 points a game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 39 percent from the 3-point line.

USC's Kevin Porter Jr. is another talented combo wing at 6-foot-6 and 217 pounds, but to this point his production hasn't come close to reaching his potential. An injury cost him some games early in the season, and now Porter Jr. is serving an indefinite suspension for conduct detrimental to the program. Character issues could cause him to drop depending on how well he interviews with teams at the draft combine.

Virginia forward De'Andre Hunter is a defensive specialist with ideal positional size at 6-foot-8 and 222 pounds. He projects as a 3-and-D player in the pros in the mold of former Spurs' defensive stopper Bruce Bowen. He should improve offensively playing in an up-tempo NBA offense.

Like Hunter, Gonzaga's Rui Hachimura could have been a first-round pick in last year's draft but decided to go back to school with the hopes of winning a national title. Hachimura has power forward size at 6-foot-9 and 234 pounds and a soft shooting touch out to the 3-point line.

Other players to watch: North Carolina SF Nassir Little; Vanderbilt PG Darius Garland; Oregon C Bol Bol; International F Sekou Doumbouya; Texas C Jaxson Hayes; Virginia Tech SG Nickeil Alexander-Walker; Gonzaga F Brandon Clarke

Bulls Trade Tracker

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NBC Sports Chicago

Bulls Trade Tracker

The Bulls, mired in one of their worst seasons in recent memory, kept the bad times rolling on Thursday night in a 30-point loss to the Nuggets in Denver. But amid a season that is more about player development and asset collection, it is important to keep up with the Bulls transactions up until the February 7 (3 p.m. ET) NBA trade deadline. Until then, we will be tracking any trades the Bulls make, as well as listing the Bulls current trade assets.

The Bulls 1st round picks will not be included in the rankings. Those picks obviously have tremendous value with Chicago being a struggling team, and they aren’t any obvious trades where the it would be worth it for the Bulls to give up high-1st round picks.

Trade assets:

  1. Jabari Parker

  2. Bobby Portis

  3. Robin Lopez

  4. 2019 2nd round pick (via the Memphis Grizzlies)

Reports state (New York Post) that the Bulls have been engaging in Jabari Parker trade talks, with the Knicks as a possible suitor. Parker is averaging 16.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 2.2 APG and shooting 46.2 percent from the field.

There are no reports of trade talks about Bobby Portis. But he is headed for restricted free agency. If Portis does not receive and offer sheet from another team, he will be eligible to be sign-and-traded. Portis averaging 11.9 PPG, 7.6 RPG and shooting 40.5 percent from the field, and 34.1 percent from the 3-point line.

There are reports of the Bulls looking for trade partners for Robin Lopez. He is on a $14.3 million expiring contract (via spotrac.com) and is averaging 5.9 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 0.8 BPG and is shooting 52 percent from the field, and 26.7 percent from the 3-point line.

The Bulls 2019 2nd round pick (via the Memphis Grizzlies) is currently projected to be 38th.

TRADES:

Justin Holiday traded to the Memphis Grizzlies for MarShon Brooks (cut) and Wayne Selden Jr., Grizzlies’ 2019 and 2020 second-round picks.

Bulls trade heavily protected 2nd round pick for Michael-Carter Williams, then waive him

Other updates:

Bulls waive guard Cameron Payne to free roster spot needed after trade with Grizzlies

Cameron Payne signs with Cleveland Cavaliers fresh off being released by Bulls

Bulls call up Rawle Alkins (2-way contract player)

Bulls waive Tyler Ulis and sign Brandon Sampson to a two-way contract

All stats via NBA.com