Jimmy Butler Trade Rumors: 5 Teams That Could Trade For Him

Jimmy Butler trade rumors are starting to gain some traction. If the Chicago Bulls actually make him available, here are five teams that could trade for him.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Dec 23, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) stands on the court during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Spectrum Center. The Hornets defeated the Bulls 103-91. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler trade rumors aren’t anything new. It was over a year ago that we first started reading reports about the Chicago Bulls being hesitant to trust Jimmy Buckets as the next leader of the franchise, despite how hard he worked for them on both ends of the floor.

With the Feb. 23 NBA trade deadline approaching, it’s not surprising to hear more rumors that the front office could be considering moving him and starting what looks like a necessary rebuild from scratch.

According to Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher, the Bulls will not only be shopping disgruntled point guard Rajon Rondo, but they’ll also be putting Butler on the trade block to cash in on the value of their 27-year-old superstar and jumpstart the rebuilding process.

The Athletic’s Sean Highkin has since refuted the report, noting that whatever young players or draft picks the Bulls would get in return for Butler, there’s no guarantee those assets actually turn into a player that’s as good as Butler is right now.

It’s also worth noting that even trade rumors from go-to reporters like Marc Stein or Adrian Wojnarowski need to be taken with a grain of salt at this time of year, since teams “leak” information to throw people off their trail.

However, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne also reported the Bulls are listening to Butler offers, so since it’s not out of the question, it’s time we do our due diligence by examining some trade scenarios.

In a career season, Jimmy Buckets is averaging a career-high 25.2 points, a career-high 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He’s become Chicago’s go-to on offense and he’s been their best wing defender for years now.

There’s no question he could bring the Bulls quite a handsome trade package if he were actually dealt, especially since the remaining two years and $38.5 million remaining on his contract (plus a $19.8 million player option for 2019-20) are pretty team-friendly under the expanding salary cap.

The question is, which teams would be interested and could actually put together a decent trade offer? Here’s a look at five potential Jimmy Butler trade scenarios (plus a couple of honorable mentions), along with why each deal would and wouldn’t work out.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Jan 2, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) drives around a screen set by center Robin Lopez (8) during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at the United Center. Chicago won 118-111. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Honorable Mentions

Charlotte Hornets:

Bulls get SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
SG – Jeremy Lamb
C – Frank Kaminsky
Future draft pick(s)

Hornets get SG – Jimmy Butler

As losers in three of their last four games, the Charlotte Hornets are slowly realizing their own limitations. Outside of Kemba Walker dropping 30 and Nicolas Batum‘s well-rounded production, this team is only situated fifth in the East because of how discombobulated the rest of the conference is.

Their 20-17 record isn’t anything to write home about, but trading for a legitimate star to pair with Kemba and Batum could change things. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is a superb defensive stopper, but hasn’t proven he can knock down a jump shot consistently, and Butler’s not too shabby on the defensive end either.

The question is, would a return of MKG, sixth man Jeremy Lamb, the underrated Frank Kaminsky and future draft considerations be enough to get Chicago to bite? More than likely, there would be better offers on the table.

Milwaukee Bucks:

Bulls get SG – Khris Middleton
PG – Rashad Vaughn
Future draft picks

Bucks get SG – Jimmy Butler

As we already covered with our Paul Millsap trade scenarios, the best course of action for the Milwaukee Bucks is to be patient and wait for Khris Middleton to return, especially since he’s on the same timeline as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Malcolm Brogdon.

But there’s no question Jimmy Butler would be a massive upgrade at the 2, vaulting the young Bucks into another tier and accelerating the team’s rebuild timeline. Is that the end of the world considering how ready the Greek Freak and Parker have looked this season?

More than likely though, a package of a recovering Middleton, Rashad Vaughn and future draft picks wouldn’t be the best offer available, especially if Milwaukee was hesitant to add Brogdon to the equation.

Toronto Raptors:

Bulls get SF – DeMarre Caroll
SG – Norman Powell
C – Jakob Poeltl
2017 1st round picks

Raptors get SG – Jimmy Butler

If the Toronto Raptors wanted to, they might have the assets to put together a compelling offer for Butler. But if We The North fans balked at the idea of giving up Patrick Patterson, Norman Powell or Jonas Valanciunas to bring aboard a perfect fit like Paul Millsap, they might not see the point of adding Butler to a wing rotation that’s already good enough with DeMar DeRozan and DeMarre Carroll.

Carroll would be one potential centerpiece in such a trade, included in a package of something like Powell, Jakob Poeltl and both of Toronto’s 2017 first rounders. But that might not be enough for Chicago, and the Raptors LOVE Powell.

They also love Patterson and reportedly want to re-sign him, despite the fact that a Patterson-Poeltl-Terrence Ross package with draft picks thrown in might work for Chicago as an alternative. The Raptors need to make a blockbuster move to keep up with the Cavaliers, but that move is far more likely to be Millsap than Jimmy Butler.

New Orleans Pelicans:

Bulls get SF – Solomon Hill
SG – Buddy Hield
PF – Terrence Jones
SG – Langston Galloway

Pelicans get SG – Jimmy Butler
PG- Jerian Grant

The New Orleans Pelicans need to start adding superstar talent to their roster, and a Butler-Anthony Davis duo would certainly make them more appealing to free agents. But would spare parts and a promising rookie be enough to swindle Chicago into a deal?

For salary matching purposes, a deal would have to be something like Solomon Hill, Terrence Jones, Langston Galloway and rookie Buddy Hield, perhaps with a future first rounder thrown in as well. Are the Bulls THAT enticed by Hield to take on a whole new wing rotation?

This deal wouldn’t give the Bulls the point guard they need unless Tim Frazier replaced T-Jones, they’d be giving up Jerian Grant, and they’d honestly be better off holding out for a better offer elsewhere. The Pelicans should still try, but as you can see, their asset cupboard is probably too bare to get a deal done.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Nov 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) drives to the basket while defended by Orlando Magic guard Mario Hezonja (8) during the first quarter at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

5. Orlando Magic

Bulls get PG – Elfrid Payton
PG – Aaron Gordon
C – Nikola Vucevic

Magic get SG – Jimmy Butler
PG – Jerian Grant

The Orlando Magic have had no problem shipping off young players they lost faith in, with Victor Oladipo and Tobias Harris being the recent glaring examples. Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic have already been rumored to be on the trade block, so as much as it would hurt to lose Aaron Gordon, would the front office make the gamble to nab Butler and make a push for the playoffs?

There was once a time where all three players were seen as cornerstones for a rebuilding Magic franchise, but the front office’s moves show that the priority is really getting back to the postseason. Even with three quality players out the door, Butler would help Orlando there.

Payton is a solid passer and hardworking defender, but he still can’t shoot. Vucevic is a useful bench scorer and rebounder, but he’s a miserable interior defender. Gordon is athletic and the closest thing Orlando has to a franchise player now, but he is being played out of position at the 3 in a crowded frontcourt, limiting his ceiling.

That’d be quite a ransom for Butler, but with so many talented players included, hopefully the Magic could get away with not including a future first round draft pick.

For the Bulls, they’d get their starting point guard for the future in Payton, though they’d have to hope he develops a reliable perimeter jumper. Gordon could take over the starting 4-spot and finally play his true position, while Vucevic could continue providing his scoring punch off the bench.

All three players are 26 years or younger, helping the Bulls jumpstart a much-needed rebuild. The Magic, meanwhile, would get Butler and backup point guard Jerian Grant to help the 16-22 Magic close the three-game gap between themselves and a playoff spot.

That being said, this is a lot of young talent for the Magic to ship away, and even for an Orlando front office that’s become notorious for shortsighted blunders, this would be HUGE gamble. Plus, if the Bulls weren’t completely enamored with some of these young prospects who have failed to truly burst onto the scene, this might not be enough compensation without a draft pick included.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Dec 19, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) looks to pass while Detroit Pistons forward Tobias Harris (34) guards during the first half of the game at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

4. Detroit Pistons

Bulls get PG – Reggie Jackson
SG – Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
PF – Henry Ellenson

Pistons get SG – Jimmy Butler
PG – Jerian Grant

The return of Reggie Jackson hasn’t gone according to plan, with the Detroit Pistons going 6-11 since he came back and falling all the way to 11th in the conference standings. It’d be well within Stan Van Gundy’s rights to consider further roster tweaks, or even a full blockbuster deal like this.

It may seem like it’s too early to give up on Jackson now that he’s back, and the Pistons certainly wouldn’t be criticized for staying patient and standing pat at the deadline. But bringing in Butler would give Detroit a go-to scorer and Van Gundy already has a semi-capable point guard that could replace Jackson in Ish Smith.

Giving up a promising two-way player like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would hurt as well, but like Jackson, he hasn’t exactly blown anyone away in 2016-17. He’s shooting a career-high 38.4 percent from downtown, but that’s really the only area on offense where he’s shown substantial growth in his fourth year.

He’s still quite valuable at age 23, Jackson is only 26, and Henry Ellenson is a useful stretch-big who could provide further depth to Chicago’s frontcourt. It’d be a bit crowded, but they’d also have a very deep backcourt between Jackson, KCP and the veteran Dwyane Wade.

Would that be enough compensation for the Bulls without a draft pick being thrown in? Perhaps not. And would Detroit be okay with going back to Ish Smith at the 1 after starting the season 11-10 with him at the helm?

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Dec 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Andrew Wiggins (22) dribbles the ball against Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the second half at the United Center. Minnesota defeats Chicago 99-94. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

Bulls get PG – Ricky Rubio
SF – Andrew Wiggins

Timberwolves get SG – Jimmy Butler

Like the Bucks, the Minnesota Timberwolves would be better off leaving their three-man core alone, staying patient, and letting the future cornerstones develop. They’re called “growing pains” for a reason.

However, we can’t just ignore the Tom Thibodeau connection in a trade scenario like this, especially since the Wolves already had talks with the Bulls about Jimmy Buckets on draft day. Rookie Kris Dunn is nowhere near as valuable now as he was then, but with Chicago needing a new point guard, perhaps Ricky Rubio would do the trick?

Rubio isn’t the main grab in a trade like this though. There’s no question that Andrew Wiggins has star potential, but his defense hasn’t improved under Thibs as quickly as most expected, and his early three-point efficiency has quickly regressed back to the mean at 34.8 percent on the year.

No one is suggesting that’s anywhere near enough reason to give up on him at age 21, but Thibodeau has never seemed like the patient, rebuilding type. With his team off to an vastly underwhelming 11-25 start, Butler would immediately be on his radar if the Bulls were to make him available.

Rubio and Wiggins would be more than enough star power to get a trade done, and Thibs would get one of his favorite players in return to accelerate the rebuild. Chicago gets its lead point guard and a 21-year-old star to build around for the future.

However, as bad as it’s been for the Wolves, trading Wiggins so soon for a 27-year-old star who is in his prime right now would put pressure on Minnesota to assemble a contender around Butler sooner rather than later. The Wolves are not a prime free agency destination, so as fun as Dunn, Zach LaVine, Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns might be in theory, they wouldn’t be contenders in the here and now.

Bulls get PG – Ricky Rubio
SG – Zach LaVine

Timberwolves get SG – Jimmy Butler

LaVine has been better than Wiggins this year, so perhaps the Bulls would be content with taking him and Rubio instead of Wiggins and Rubio. To be perfectly honest though, it’d be better for the Wolves to avoid a Thibs-Butler reunion, bide their time, and rule the West in the future. Dunn isn’t ready to take over the starting point guard job, and Wiggins and LaVine are still 21 years old.

An offer like this would be extremely attractive to Chicago if they made Butler available, but the Wolves shouldn’t lose faith in their bright future after one bad half-season. Don’t overthink this.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Nov 22, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) defends against Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets defeated the Bulls 110-107. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

2. Denver Nuggets

Bulls get PG – Emmanuel Mudiay
C – Jusuf Nurkic
SF – Wilson Chandler
Future draft pick(s)

Nuggets get SG – Jimmy Butler

The Denver Nuggets have been mentioned in pretty much every potential superstar trade scenario over the last year or so, from Blake Griffin to DeMarcus Cousins to Paul Millsap, so it’d be no surprise to see them mentioned in conjunction with Jimmy Butler too.

On Friday the Nuggets waived Alonzo Gee, clearing out a roster spot and giving Denver flexibility in the event of a trade. They wouldn’t really need it in this case, but it’s a subtle signal to the rest of the league that trade season has begun and the Nuggets might be open for business.

If that’s the case, they could be a prime suitor for Butler if he’s made available. Denver is one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA outside of Portland and Los Angeles, and Butler would bring some much-needed effort on that end of the floor.

It seems like the Nuggets would be giving up a lot in this trade, but that’s what it would take to pry Jimmy Buckets away from Chi-town.

There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that Emmanuel Mudiay has underwhelmed in his first few seasons in the NBA. He’s not a very good shooter, he’s turnover-prone and he’s largely inconsistent on both ends of the floor. That being said, he’s only 20 years old and could be worth the gamble for a team needing a franchise point guard.

Jusuf Nurkic has been relegated to backup duty because of Nikola Jokic‘s exceptional play, and though Nurkic has done better in his bench role lately, he could be a centerpiece for a rebuilding Bulls team moving forward.

Wilson Chandler is a valuable glue guy and experienced veteran. He could start on the wing alongside Wade and when the time came, he’d also be comfortable in a bench role since he’s thrived as Denver’s sixth man this season. In a deal like this, a pick or two would also have to be included.

Denver could put the ball in rookie Jamal Murray‘s hands more, play Gary Harris at the 2, use Butler at the 3 and bring Danilo Gallinari off the bench or use him as a small-ball 4 alongside Jokic.  Harris and Gallo would also be substituted into this deal as needed, based on what Chicago wants. Either way, with Butler on board, Denver’s playoff push would stand a much better chance.

Jimmy Butler trade rumors

Nov 2, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Bulls guard / forward Jimmy Butler (21) is guarded by Boston Celtics point guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first quarter at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

1. Boston Celtics

Bulls get PG – Marcus Smart
SF – Jae Crowder
PF – Amir Johnson
Future 1st round pick

Celtics get SG – Jimmy Butler

The Boston Celtics have long been mentioned as a potential trade destination for superstars, and Jimmy Butler has been no different. If the Bulls make him available, the Celts have the kind of assets to make a potential Godfather offer.

General manager Danny Ainge would obviously be hoping it doesn’t come to that if he pursues Butler or any other star (cough, Millsap, cough), but he also has quite a few intriguing options for a trade package without completely giving away the farm.

Celtics fans have cringed at the thought of giving up Marcus Smart or Jae Crowder, and this deal would probably sting since it’d involve giving up both. But at this stage, Smart is a backup and the Celtics would be launched into another stratosphere by upgrading from Crowder to Butler on the wing.

Smart may reach his ceiling as an all-around pit bull who harasses opponents on defense and actually learns to score, but at the moment, he’s not where he needs to be for the Celtics to contend in the here and now. Boston would retain its two best guards in Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley, putting Butler on the wing with Al Horford in the middle.

The power forward spot would still be an issue, especially with the underrated Amir Johnson also gone in this trade, but hopefully a tag team of Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Jerebko could fill the void until Ainge could swing another move for more help at the 4.

The pick Boston includes might have be the 2017 first-rounder they’re owed from Brooklyn, even though it might be extremely valuable. The Celtics have plenty of future first round picks to choose from, but which one they offer could be the deciding factor if trade talks ensue between these two teams.

For the Bulls, they’d be getting a franchise point guard who would be embraced by Chicago fans for his gritty work ethic and never-say-die attitude; a quality Butler replacement at the 3; another work horse in Johnson; and a future first, which could very well be a top-three pick this year if it’s the one from Brooklyn.

To be perfectly honest, Boston would be better off making the leap by plugging their hole at the 4 with Paul Millsap, but if the Celtics are worried about re-signing him and Butler becomes available, Chicago’s star player is locked in on his contract through at least 2018-19.

The potential obstacles here would be another team swooping in before Boston can act, the Celtics being hesitant to trade for a wing when they’ve already got Crowder/really need a 4, and the obvious fact that Butler might not be on the trade block at all.

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