NBA Trade Grades: Bulls to send Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves

The Chicago Bulls have agreed to send Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and undergo a major rebuild. Here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.The Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves are going about their rebuilds in very different ways, yet they found a way to do so in tandem Thursda...

NBA Trade Grades

Apr 12, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) reacts during the first half against the Brooklyn Nets at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bulls have agreed to send Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and undergo a major rebuild. Here are NBA Trade Grades for both sides.

The Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves are going about their rebuilds in very different ways, yet they found a way to do so in tandem Thursday night.

As first reported by ESPN‘s Marc Stein, the Wolves have agreed to send superstar Jimmy Butler to reunite with his old head coach Tom Thibodeau.

Chicago, in return, will receive Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, which was used on Lauri Markkanen. According to ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst, the Bulls are also sending their No. 16 overall pick to Minnesota as part of the deal.

Butler’s name had been come up in multiple trade rumors over the last few years, with Chicago’s front office unsure they wanted him to lead the team into a new chapter post-Derrick Rose. Now, they’re shipping him off to Minnesota for pennies on the dollar.

Timberwolves get SF – Jimmy Butler
C – Justin Patton (No. 16 pick)

Bulls get SG – Zach LaVine
PG – Kris Dunn
PF – Lauri Markkanen (No. 7 pick)

This is clearly a lopsided deal, but is it really THAT bad for the Bulls? And did Thibs really get such a monumental steal as it appears? In order to sort it all out, here are some NBA Trade Grades.

NBA Trade Grades

Dec 13, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) dribbles the ball against Chicago Bulls guard Dwyane Wade (3) during the second half at the United Center. Minnesota defeats Chicago 99-94. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls

With the return the Bulls got in this trade, you would’ve thought they were in the Indiana Pacers’ position: trying to move a disgruntled superstar who wants to leave and possessing zero leverage in any potential trade talks. With PG-13 on the trade block, Jimmy Butler’s price should’ve been sky high, especially since he has an extra year on his contract and is still in his prime.

Instead, Chicago’s front office settled for peanuts for their franchise player.

Zach LaVine is a talented young piece, and clearly the best part of this deal. In his third season, the 22-year-old 2-guard averaged a career-high 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 45.9 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three-point range.

However, an ACL tear ended his season after only 47 games, and he’s not expected to recover for some time. Fans will love the excitement he brings for his bounce and renowned dunking ability, and he’s actually far more than just an electric dunker, but will he be the same after a major knee injury?

Even if he is the same coming back, LaVine doesn’t have the same ceiling as a guy like Butler, especially on the defensive end. He’s a solid scorer, explosive athlete and underrated spot-up shooter, but there are still major holes in his game.

LaVine the best part of this trade by far, and he can learn from Dwyane Wade, but there are already red flags popping up with little Bulls logos plastered all over them.

That’s only the first questionable aspect of this trade. Kris Dunn was supposed to be the Timberwolves’ replacement for Ricky Rubio at the point guard position as a poor man’s, more defensively-inclined Russell Westbrook, but he severely underwhelmed as a rookie, averaging 3.8 points, 2.4 assists and 2.1 rebounds per game on ugly .377/.288/.610 shooting splits.

Most rookies deserve the benefit of the doubt because they have so much time to grow, but Dunn was supposed to be more NBA-ready than he appeared, especially at age 23. The Bulls need a franchise point guard to replace Rajon Rondo one day and they got younger at that spot, but there’s definite draft bust potential here.

As for the No. 7 pick, the Bulls used it on Arizona’s Lauri Markkanen, one of the best — if not the best — shooters in the draft. However, his defensive flaws could easily prevent him from ever reaching those lofty Dirk Nowitzki comparisons.

Chicago desperately needed shooting after ranking 24th in three-point percentage, but there are serious holes in Markkanen’s game that will need to be filled as he gets older (at least he’s only 20 years old).

This deal means restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic could be gone this summer, though Butler’s contract coming off the books frees up some cap space. But even if letting Mirotic sign an offer sheet elsewhere winds up being the smart move, moving a proven star like Butler for such a paltry package is yet another blunder on the part of the Bulls’ front office.

Trading a guy who averaged a career-high 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals on .455/.367/.865 shooting splits while doubling as one of the league’s best wing defenders is one thing. Doing so for a guy coming off an ACL tear, a guy with serious bust potential and a one dimensional rookie shooter is another animal entirely.

But hey, at least there’s a trade exception!

In all seriousness, Chicago could’ve and should’ve held out for much more than this. Even if LaVine returns healthy, even if Dunn becomes a more serviceable point guard than Cameron Payne, Jerian Grant and the rest of that Bulls pu-pu platter at the 1, and even if Markkanen is playable at the next level on both ends of the floor, Butler still should’ve fetched more than this.

Grade: D

NBA Trade Grades

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

Minnesota Timberwolves

Make your jokes about Thibs running Jimmy Butler into the ground again if you must. Actually, go ahead and do that, because it’s a legitimate concern for the soon-to-be 28-year-old.

In any case, the Timberwolves did extremely well to spin three shaky assets into a bonafide superstar like Jimmy Buckets, even if he’s not quite on the same timeline as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league and is capable of playing either the 2 or the 3, which works perfectly with Wiggins sliding back and forth between those positions as well. Adding a skilled and versatile veteran will not only help Minnesota as a team, but should provide a great example for Wiggins as well.

Suddenly, the T-Wolves went from a bummer of a situation, waiting for LaVine to recover and wondering if Dunn would ever pan out, to adding a borderline top-10 player. Passing on Markkanen or Malik Monk in the draft is perfectly acceptable in that scenario, especially since the Wolves were able to get Chicago to see all three of their assets through rose-colored glasses.

Between Butler, Wiggins and KAT, the Timberwolves are finally back on the playoff path, which they were expected to be on this past season. There’s legitimate reason for excitement for a fanbase that hasn’t seen the postseason since 2004.

The “Bounce Brothers” moniker may be dead, but Minnesota’s underwhelming defense (ranked No. 26 in the league last year) should see a decent turnaround and in time, the Wolves could have two very good two-way players on the wing to lock opponents down.

LaVine was a potentially special player, Dunn isn’t for sure a bust and Markkanen’s shooting ability is very real, but the Timberwolves were rightfully willing to package them together for a legitimate game-changer — especially since they were able to get Chicago’s 16th overall pick.

The Wolves used that selection on Creighton center Justin Patton, one of the top frontcourt prospects in the draft. Cole Aldrich was decent as a backup, but having his upside and a little extra depth/youth at center is a solid move for a team that’s starting to round out the edges.

There’s still a question as to what the Wolves will do at the point guard spot for the long-term. It’s no secret Ricky Rubio has been on the trade block for quite some time, Dunn is gone and Tyus Jones isn’t the solution.

However, for the time being, this is a solid all-around move. Keeping Rubio is actually the best play for this young group, especially with another dynamic scorer on the wing to facilitate to. This is a coup for the Minnesota Timberwolves, no doubt.

Grade: A-

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