Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves in draft-night blockbuster

SHARE Bulls trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves in draft-night blockbuster

Rebuilds are supposed to come with suffering.

The Bulls started that painful process Thursday with gusto.

Call it Michael Reinsdorf’s aggressive influence or maybe general manager Gar Forman and vice president of basketball operations John Paxson simply realized that the return of the “Three Alphas’’ would be disastrous. Either way, the Bulls began their journey down the rebuild road, trading their best all-around player since the days of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick were sent to Minnesota for guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine.

The Timberwolves also sent the seventh overall pick, which the Bulls turned into Arizona stretch four Lauri Markkanen.

So the Bulls have a backcourt of the future in Dunn and LaVine, a big man who will stretch the floor in Markkanen and some flexibility to let restricted free agent Nikola Mirotic walk if he receives an outrageous offer.

And what about point guard Rajon Rondo? According to a Bulls source, the front office was mulling his future with the team, but the addition of Dunn might have ended the discussion.

The Bulls have a $13.4 million option on Rondo for next season but could buy him out for $3 million. They have until next week to make a decision.

As for Butler, the All-NBA third-teamer was in Paris when he learned of the trade, and he told the Sun-Times that he was “still letting it all sink in.’’

His trainer, Travelle Gaines, who frequently hung around the team at home and on the road, didn’t need that “sink-in’’ time.

Gaines unloaded on Twitter, specifically on Forman: “0-82. Worst culture in the league. I met drug dealers with better morals than their GM. He is a liar, and everyone knows.’’

Forman was asked if there was something specific he lied to Butler about, especially after Paxson, Forman and Butler met two weeks ago, and also if Gaines’ tweet would add to his already-poor reputation around the league.

“You’d have to ask Travelle what he meant by it, but the answer to your question is no,’’ Forman said.

When asked if he has concerns about his reputation hurting the team’s ability to lure free agents in the future, Forman said, “No, I have a great belief in our ownership, the Chicago Bulls, the city we’re in, the type of team we’re going to build.’’

Paxson weighed in, saying, “I completely disagree when someone takes a shot like that. It’s not right, it’s unprofessional, and he shouldn’t have done it. I’ve worked with Gar a long time, and it’s an unfair characterization. [Gaines] had his motivation. Maybe he’s emotional, but, look, we are in a position of we have to do what we feel is right.

“So if he’s unhappy, that’s on him, not on us.’’

Meanwhile, the Bulls know exactly what kind of prize they just handed Tom Thibodeau, the team’s former coach.

Going into his second season as president of basketball operations/coach of the Timberwolves, Thibodeau will be reunited with Butler, 27, who’s coming off one of his best seasons.

He will give Thibodeau’s young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins a huge boost, especially on the defensive end, where Minnesota had most of its problems.

The Bulls selected Jordan Bell in the second round but traded him to Golden State for $3.5 million.

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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