Jimmy Butler was reportedly on the trade block during the past NBA Draft, and teams were inquiring about the future of the versatile two-way player during most of the NBA season, with his situation uncertain until the very last second of the NBA trade deadline, as the Boston Celtics were reportedly keen to bring the Marquette product to the TD Garden.
Of course, Jimmy ‘G’ Buckets wound up staying put at the United Center under Fred Hoiberg’s tutelage, and with the Chicago Bulls fighting for that eighth and last playoff spot alongside the Miami Heat and the Detroit Pistons, they just couldn’t let their franchise player go.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that Butler’s future is safe in the Windy City, as there’s a lot of speculation surrounding Gar/Pax and the entire Bulls front office, as they’re not on the same page. While some want to compete, others want to start from scratch and rebuild.
So, the Bulls made several moves during this season, although several of them seemed pointless and quite odd. And now, with the Bulls stuck in a spiral of mediocrity, it seems like the best thing to do for them is to let Butler walk away to play for a contender and get as much value from him as they can, to try and develop youngsters like Cameron Payne, Denzel Valentine, Cristiano Felicio and Bobby Portis.
According to Kevin O'Connor (The Ringer's), Butler is "as good as gone" in the offseason. O'Connor didn't elaborate, but it sounds like the Chicago Bulls are planning to rebuild next season.
Having said that, let’s take a look at the 3 best destinations for Jimmy Buckets, considering what the teams can give the Bulls in order to make a serious push for his services.
Los Angeles Lakers
Magic Johnson is keen to take the Lakers back to contention and he won’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to dress Butler in purple and gold. After Kobe’s departure, Jimmy would take the reins of the Staples Center and create his own legacy as a Laker, leading the talented youngsters beside him and going back to his original shooting guard position, where he’ll thrive playing against smaller and weaker opposition.
The Lakers could send Jordan Clarkson and Julius Randle to the Bulls, providing a bit of more consistency and post presence and a fierce, speedy scorer that has proven that can put huge numbers either as a starter or off the bench, and they could also send Denver’s 2018 2nd rounder in the deal.
This could be the best destination for Butler if he wants to compete, and they could actually put together a very nice package to bring the guard/forward to the Garden, finally finding some LeBron James kryptonite. On top of that, they have a lot of money to offer to free agents like Gordon Hayward, and pairing those two with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford would be quite interesting.
The Celtics could send Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder to the Bulls, three guys that could bring them back to their defensive dominant era, although they wouldn’t fit Fred Hoiberg’s style one bit. Nevertheless, the Bulls seem lost and their roster makes absolutely no sense, so that wouldn’t stop them from pulling the trigger here.
The recent surge of Devin Booker and Tyler Ennis has made Eric Bledsoe quite expendable, and let’s not kid ourselves, even if Bledsoe’s a great point guard, he lacks what it takes to be that kind of dominant starting guard to make it in the NBA, and his health and durability issues are a real concern.
So, the Suns could send Bledsoe to the United Center, and that could be a significant improvement from Michael Carter-Williams, Jerian Grant, and even Rajon Rondo while Cameron Payne develops. On top of that, they could also send Alex Len to provide rim protection for the long run and TJ Warren to seal the deal.