Trading Jimmy Butler will go down as one of Bulls’ worst mistakes

While the old regime did its best to control the narrative of why sending Butler to Minnesota for a package that ended up being Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn was necessary, it’s now easy to see what really happened.

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Since leaving Chicago, Jimmy Butler has led three franchises to the playoffs and helped the Heat reach two Finals.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It was one of the underrated scenes in “White Men Can’t Jump.’’

Not the trashy remake that Hulu released last month, but the real 1992 cinematic classic with Woody Harrelson playing “Billy Ho,’’ and Wesley Snipes as Sidney Deane.

After pulling off another on-the-court hustle, Harrelson pops a Jimi Hendrix cassette in for the car ride home, leading to a back-and-forth between the two, as Snipes is trying to make a point.

“That’s what the problem is . . . you all listen,’’ Snipes said, as the Hendrix music was blaring. “You’re supposed to hear it. There’s a difference between hearing and listening . . .you all can’t hear Jimi . . . you listen.’’

Over 30 years later, it still holds true.

Just a different Jimmy.

However these NBA Finals finish, whether it’s Miami pulling off the impossible and slaying Goliath, or the Nuggets doing what they’re supposed to do and holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy, what has become painfully obvious to Bulls fans and the organization is what a colossal mistake trading Jimmy Butler was back in 2017.

It’s not only becoming one of the worst NBA trades in the last decade, but maybe the worst in Bulls history.

And the kicker?

Butler never wanted to leave.

While the old regime of Gar/Pax did its best to control the narrative of why sending Butler to Minnesota for a package that ended up being Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Kris Dunn was necessary, it’s now easy to see what really happened.

Bottom line: They didn’t hear Jimmy.

They listened to the do-it-all guard, but they didn’t hear him.

That meant not wanting to pay him the super max or close to it. That meant not wanting to relinquish some control because of the all-out recruiting Butler wanted to do with the roster. Most disturbing, however, was the old regime never fully understanding what they had in their own building.

A talent that they themselves drafted, watched grow, but didn’t have the foresight to identify as an elite on-the-court apex predator.

Mistakes like that don’t just leave an organization limping, they cripple it.

Six seasons later, the Bulls still haven’t recovered. Gone are Markkanen and Dunn, while LaVine has proven to be Robin rather than Batman on a team that has won one playoff game since Butler was shipped out.

Meanwhile, all Butler has done in that time has taken three franchises to the postseason, the Heat to the NBA Finals twice, and has cemented himself as one of the best playoff performers in recent memory.

And he did so warning each team that didn’t recognize his talent along the way.

He made it very clear to the Bulls that the roster wasn’t going in the right direction, he used a now famous intrasquad scrimmage to show the Timberwolves how soft Karl-Anthony Towns & Co. were at the time, and he was very vocal about the 76ers investing max money in low-effort players like a Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons rather than building around himself and good friend Joel Embiid.

All three franchises have been worst off without Butler.

Look, Butler doesn’t always want to play nice when it comes to the honesty department. Hell, he doesn’t even care that much about the regular season.

The postseason is everything for Butler at this point in his career. That’s when adversity is truly tested. Overcoming adversity is his comfort zone.

While the Bulls might be proud of the fact that they were three minutes away from eliminating Butler and Miami in the April 14 play-in game, what those final three minutes and every round of the playoffs since has truly shown is just how far away the Bulls actually are from a team like Miami and a player like Butler.

And they’re not alone.

Minnesota, Philadelphia . . . they all made similar mistakes. They listened to Jimmy, but they never heard him.

They’re hearing him now.

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