As we come into the NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves have made it clear that the fifth pick is available in an attempt to trade for Jimmy Butler.
Last night, ESPN “broke” a story that the Minnesota Timberwolves have let the Chicago Bulls know that the fifth pick in the upcoming NBA Draft’s first round is available in an attempt to make a transaction including Jimmy Butler. We reported this about three weeks ago. This has been something that has been thrown around Timberwolves circles since the day that new Head Coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau was hired.
Viewed as a “Win Now” coach, Tom Thibodeau looks to put together a deal that could bring Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. An All-Star and one of the best two-way players in the NBA, Butler would give the Timberwolves a huge boost and make then a contender sooner than later, but would a deal that the Chicago Bulls agreed to be able to be put together.
Jimmy Butler, as of now, is the face of the Bulls franchise and the centerpiece of their future. If they would be willing to deal him, they would expect a premier piece they could build around in return. It is rumored that the Bulls will not accept a deal unless Andrew Wiggins is involved.
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Jimmy Butler may be a better all around player that Andrew Wiggins at this point of his career, but Butler is 27 years old in comparison to Wiggins who is barely 20. Wiggins is still growing into his body and he has not even entered his prime years yet. I do not know if I would do this deal straight up, let alone in addition to the fifth pick in this year’s draft. If all goes as expected, this will be the last high lottery pick the Timberwolves have for a few years.
If Andrew Wiggins is out, then you would have to say the only other deal that the Bulls would consider would be the fifth pick, Zach Lavine, and maybe another piece like a Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad. Zach Lavine, all though not a franchise player, is barely 20 years old himself and has shown amazing ability throughout his two NBA season. Lavine’s nowhere near the player that Butler is but with the difference in age and what we have seen from Lavine so far, his ceiling is much higher. Not to mention the chemistry between Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach Lavine. This is something that would be a mistake to break up.
So with the Lavine deal in play, the Timberwolves would lose Lavine himself, plus a possible good role player with high potential in their draft pick, and either Dieng or Muhammad. Dieng was a key player for the Timberwolves last season and Muhammad was a key player in their second unit. This deal also does not look like a deal that would be a smart move for the Timberwolves.
ESPN’s Chad Ford put together a list of Draft Day Trades he would like to see. In this article, he mentions a possible trade with the Timberwolves involving Butler.
"Bulls send Jimmy Butler and Taj GibsonWolves send: No. 5 pick, Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng and Nikola PekovicWhy the Wolves do it: Because Tom Thibodeau loves Butler. He has plenty of elite young players on the roster. He wants to put them in a winning culture and Butler would help tremendously with that.The Wolves won’t be the only team pursuing Butler and this package may not be enough, but if Thibs could get this done, it’s a slam dunk.Why the Bulls do it: The Bulls are potentially facing a total rebuild. Pau Gasol may leave via free agency. Derrick Rose looks like he’ll never be able to fully bounce back after several years of injuries.Getting the No. 5 pick — they really covet Kris Dunn — along with LaVine and Dieng, to go along with their own No. 14 pick, would allow the Bulls to start the rebuilding process quickly.The Celtics may be able to make a better offer, so keep an eye on that. Either way, the Bulls are likely missing the playoffs again next year. But this kind of deal would give them significant hope for the future."
This trade would be more of an even trade as the Timberwolves would at least receive Gibson to replace a hole left by the loss of Dieng. Still is it worthwhile to part with Lavine and the fifth pick without seeing out their possible potential?
As I mentioned earlier, the Bulls would be looking for a player who could be a centerpiece for their franchise and it’s rebuild. Besides Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram, it does not look as if there are franchise players they could pick with the fifth pick. Maybe they select a Buddy Hield, Jamal Murray, to replace the hole they now would have in loosing Jimmy Butler.
The last senario would be the fifth pick and Ricky Rubio. If they would even accept this deal, it would leave the Timberwolves with a huge hole at starting point guard. They would be basically handing the keys to Tyus Jones, who had a good second half to his rookie campaign but did not show he can lead this team.
Every way that you look at this, it does not look like a smart move for the Timberwolves. If it was Wiggins, the fifth pick(possibly Hield, Murray, or Dunn), for Butler, this would be a bad move by the franchise. They must take into account the Cleveland Cavaliers and the regret they surely have for not taking a chance on Wiggins two years ago. If it was Lavine, the fifth pick(possibly Hield, Murray, or Dunn), and Dieng/Muhammad, for Butler, this also would be a bad move for the franchise leaving them with too many holes to fill.
It will be hard to put together a deal that will entice the Bulls, without crippling the Timberwolves at the same time. I do not see this happening. Draft night will be interesting. There will definitely be some trade on draft night. It will be interesting to see which direction the new Minnesota Timberwolves hierarchy is going to go.