One of the most talked about players during NBA Draft week is finally on the move. After almost a week and a half of speculation, Jimmy Butler has officially been traded. However, instead of the rumored favorite Boston Celtics, the former All-Star was dealt to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Along with Jimmy Butler, Minnesota also acquired the Bulls 16th overall pick in exchange for a package consisting of, Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine as well as, 2017 7th overall pick Lauri Markkanen.
With Thursday’s move, the Chicago Bulls rebuild has officially begun. Many analysts are saying that the Bulls got absolutely fleeced and they are not entirely wrong. Not only did the Bulls lose Jimmy Butler but, they also had to give up their 2017 first-rounder in the process. Also, Dwyane Wade’s future with the team seems very uncertain at the moment as well. It seems highly unlikely that Wade will want to stick around during the rebuilding process.
Although Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine are solid pieces to build around, there is some uncertainty regarding their futures. First, LaVine is coming off a season-ending ACL injury and although he is expected to make a full return, it remains to see if the former Slam Dunk Contest Winner will be able to be the same player he was before the injury. It would not be the first time a member of the Chicago Bulls tore their ACL and could not get back to the same level of play before. Second, Kris Dunn had a hard time transitioning to the NBA and it still remains to be seen if he can be the high impact point guard many people believe he can be.
Both players will have the chance to be breakout stars in the Windy City. At his best, Zach LaVine is a high energy, ultra athletic scorer. At the time of his injury, LaVine was averaging 18.9 points, 3 rebounds and, 3 assists per game. The high flyer also had scored a career-high 40 points against the Sacramento Kings in early January. Prior to his season-ending injury, Zach LaVine was showing tremendous flashes of star potential which, should be a positive for Bulls fans. In the case of Kris Dunn, a fresh start might be just what the young point needs to overcome a lackluster rookie campaign. Plus, with Rajon Rondo not getting any younger, Dunn may also be the young point guard the Bulls need.
New Bulls rookie Lauri Markkanen is also a very intriguing prospect. The former Arizona Wildcat has a silky smooth jumper which, is impressive for a seven-footer. With the way the NBA is these days, Markkanen’s exquisite shooting will surely help the Bulls in the long run. The Finland native also still has time to polish his rebounding and defensive skills.
Minnesota on the other hand, appear to be the immediate winners of this deal. The Timberwolves now have an established star on their roster to compliment younger stars such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. What makes things even better is that Jimmy Butler was also formerly coached by T-wolves head coach, Tom Thibodeau during his time in Chicago. However, it will be interesting to see how Butler and Wiggins play together. Both players are best when the ball is in their hands and the offense is running through them.
The acquisition of Jimmy Butler also does wonders for the Timberwolves rebuild. Yes, Minnesota could have waited for Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn to realize their full potential, the opportunity to acquire Jimmy Butler was likely too good to pass up. Minnesota also reportedly tried to land Butler during the 2016 NBA Draft. Lastly, the Timberwolves newest star is under contract for two more years. This means that there is no immediate need to worry about any contractual issues if there were any. The Minnesota Timberwolves probably will not win a championship anytime soon but, their chances of making the Playoffs are looking increasingly better.
As previously noted, only time will tell who won this trade. For Minnesota, this deal was all about the present while for Chicago, this deal is about the future. Chicago will have a few more important decisions to make this upcoming summer, as for Minnesota the 2017-2018 Season cannot come soon enough. The NBA offseason has just begun and if Thursday’s blockbuster was any indication, we are in for a wild summer.