Minnesota Timberwolves acquire Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler

After months and months of rumors, the Bulls finally traded superstar small forward Jimmy Butler on Thursday night, shortly after the 2017 NBA Draft began. However, this particular deal unites Butler with several talented young stars and his former Bulls' head coach, Tom Thibodeau.

The Chicago Bulls are sending the All-Star guard to Minnesota in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 overall pick in this year's draft, which is Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen. But that was before LaVine tore his anterior cruciate ligament midway through this past season - after a promising start that had him in the running to be the league's most improved player, averaging 18.9 points. Landing a top-15 player like Butler to team with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins sends a sign of how aggressive the teams could be.

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The 7-foot, 230-pound Markkanen may be joined in the draft by a former teammate.

The Bulls made the playoffs with 41 wins after missing out the previous year. "They will take the starting point that they have, but they have to build on it".

In Chicago, fans were flummoxed, including the guy who quipped that he's "moving to Minnesota" and referred to "Mr. Butler" in his reaction.

With all that in play, the Wolves were forced to also offer up the No. 7 pick this season to push the deal over the top. But they did receive Chicago's first-round pick in return.

Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game last season with the Bulls, and was the type of player who could take over games when needed.

Butler, who turns 28 in September, could have been in for an even more massive payday had he stayed in Chicago. Aside from the (fool's gold) optimism gained by taking a 2-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics in the first round of the playoffs before Rajon Rondo suffered a thumb injury, the Bulls had no reason to think they were in position to contend.

The addition of Markkanen - a scoring force on the perimeter and in the post for Arizona - raises questions about the future of Nikola Mirotic, though Paxson said the Bulls intend to bring him back. Wade opted in for the final year of his contract, but that isn't stopping Chicago from pivoting to a new, younger nucleus that includes LaVine, Dunn, Markkanen and Denzel Valentine.

  • Julie Sanders