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NBA PM: Five Jimmy Butler Trades

The Bulls don’t want to trade Jimmy Butler, but here are five trade offers that could make them reconsider.

Joel Brigham

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The way the Chicago Bulls ended their season, it’s no wonder that teams are working under the assumption that the front office is interested in completely overhauling their roster. As Steve Kyler reported in Tuesday’s AM report, it’s much more likely Chicago would be willing to move Derrick Rose than Jimmy Butler in executing that overhaul, but there’s not a hoops fan alive who doesn’t understand Butler is the more valuable asset.

Chicago has Butler on a great contract for the foreseeable future and has a track record of executing “win-now” philosophies rather than complete rebuilds, so it seems much more likely that John Paxson and Gar Forman would put more work into rebuilding a pseudo-contender around Butler this summer than shipping off their lone All-Star in exchange for younger pieces that could initiate a full rebuild. Still, that hasn’t stopped the rumors that teams are interested in acquiring Butler through whatever means necessary.

Already, the Minnesota Timberwolves and Boston Celtics have expressed interest, which makes sense considering Tom Thibodeau, Butler’s former head coach in Chicago, is now running the Wolves’ front office and Boston has been indirectly tasked with building a nest of All-Stars to try and lure Kevin Durant to Beantown.

The question, though, is what sort of deal would actually get Chicago to pull the trigger on a Butler offer? They may not be actively looking to trade him, but if the offer is too good to refuse, that could seriously change things. The following are a few purely hypothetical trade possibilities that could get the Bulls to budge, even though the likelihood of his actually getting dealt remain rather minute.

(Note: None of these are made with any regard to the salary cap. Assume that the pieces mentioned in each deal are for a framework, and that other pieces would ultimately be involved to make the money work).

Chicago trades Jimmy Butler and the #14 pick to Minnesota for Andrew Wiggins and the #5 pick.

To be fair, there’s very little chance that this is the trade that actually happens because Minnesota would essentially be swapping a better draft pick and a younger, less expensive version of Butler in Wiggins to bring back a player who, though more decorated, does have a lot more miles on his odometer and does draw a much larger paycheck.

Despite that, it’s reasonable to assume that any conversation between these two teams is going to start with Chicago wanting Wiggins for their All-Star guard, and it’s not a completely unreasonable ask. In this scenario, Chicago could potentially draft Kris Dunn with the No. 5 pick and bring in Wiggins to reset with players closer to those guys’ ages. The argument against Butler in Chicago is that he’s the only guy of note on that roster in his prime and nobody else is really even close to getting there. Getting Wiggins instead keeps a lot of the same tools in the lineup, albeit with quite a bit less experience.

And that experience would be what Minnesota is paying for. Butler has been named to the All-Star team for two consecutive years and is one of the league’s elite perimeter defenders. He has playoff experience under Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau and would bring more leadership to a team that certainly wouldn’t shun it. It would cost a little to make that swap, but not all that much, and with Thibs in charge it’s not unreasonable to think he could break up the youth movement and start putting more established guys around Karl-Anthony Towns.

Chicago trades Jimmy Butler and the #14 pick to Minnesota for Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Dieng and the #5 pick.

But let’s assume Wiggins is off the table, mostly because he probably is. Another option would be to try and pry Rubio away from Minnesota as the primary piece of the trade, along with defensive big man Gorgui Dieng, who would go a long way toward replacing whatever big men in Chicago depart for greener pastures this summer.

Rubio still isn’t a good outside shooter, but he’d absolutely facilitate the up-tempo offense that Fred Hoiberg wants to run in Chicago. Paxson and Forman still could try to take Dunn with the #5 pick and initiate a second trade to rid themselves of Derrick Rose so the point guard rotation didn’t get too muddy, but if the Bulls kept Rubio and Rose for now, there are other options at pick #5. Buddy Hield could be an interesting addition, as could leapfrog big man Marquese Chriss. Dragan Bender has the vibe of a guy who could work in Hoiberg’s system as well, so a trade with Minnesota doesn’t necessarily have to result in drafting Dunn, particularly if Rubio ends up being part of the package.

Chicago trades Jimmy Butler to Minnesota for Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng and the #5 pick.

In this scenario the Bulls still would get the defensive presence of Dieng, but instead of Rubio they’d end up with two-time slam dunk champion Zach LaVine, who’s a more well-rounded scorer than casual fans give him credit for. He’d be right in line to develop alongside Doug McDermott, Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis (and, we presume, Kris Dunn, not to mention whomever Chicago would draft at #14), giving Chicago a reasonable reboot that might not be competitive right away but would have the potential to be something pretty interesting a couple of years down the road.

In terms of the most reasonable deals coming from Minnesota, this one looks best for both teams involved. The Bulls are in the driver’s seat on this and certainly have no reason to take even the best offer this summer if they don’t want to. They may hold out for Wiggins or make a deal with a different team, but the Wolves at least have a few interesting packages they can offer up that would at least make Chicago’s front office raise an eyebrow.

Chicago trades Jimmy Butler to Boston for Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Kelly Olynyk, and the #3 pick.

Boston, though, has arguably more to offer by way of assets, especially if the Bulls really are serious about selling high on Butler and cashing him out for as many talented young pieces as possible. This particular deal already looks beefier than anything Minnesota can offer up, not only because that #3 pick all but assures them Dunn if they really do want him so badly, but also gives them a defensive presence in Bradley to replace at least some of what they’re losing in terms of defensive intensity with Butler. Olynyk is a perfect Hoiberg player, a stretch big that can knock down threes, while Crowder has proven that he’d fit in just about anywhere with a motor like the one he’s got. All four of these young players would give Chicago a much more well-rounded core and collectively could replace Butler rather neatly.

Typically it’s not a good idea to trade four quarters for a dollar in the NBA, as Bill Simmons always says, but other such trades have worked out okay for teams in the past. Taking on that many talented young players increases Chicago’s odds of at least one of them blooming into a star.

Chicago trades Jimmy Butler to Boston for Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko, the #3 and the #16 picks.

The other Boston scenario asks for a little less in actual talent (it would be understandable, for example, if the Celtics were not all that keen on shipping off Olynyk), but a little more in draft assets. Any deal Chicago makes likely will have to include either Bradley or Marcus Smart, though Rozier is a guy the Bulls liked in the draft a year ago and would likely love to see flourish in their own system. He languished in Boston in what turned out to be just a loaded backcourt rotation.

Three of the top 16 picks in the forthcoming draft would be the real prize of this deal. Chicago could take Dunn at #3 and then run the rookie with Bradley in the backcourt. Taking players like Domantas Sabonis, Deyonta Davis and/or Denzel Valentine a little later in the draft could really help fill that roster up with good, young talent. Again, the trade wouldn’t help Chicago in the short-term, but it would give them a better shot three or four years down the road, when the team’s current crop of youngsters enters its prime.

In both potential Boston deals, the Celtics get to keep Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger, plus plenty of cap space to chase after guys like Kevin Durant and Al Horford. Danny Ainge’s bevvy of assets are just burning a hole in his pocket, and he can’t wait to overpay for superstar talent.

Chicago may not want to trade Jimmy Butler, but with deals like these they’ll at least have to listen.

Joel Brigham is a senior writer for Basketball Insiders, covering the Central Division and fantasy basketball.

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Dejounte Murray: The Spurs’ Latest Steal

The Spurs have a history of drafting talented players late in the draft. Dejounte Murray is emerging as their most recent steal, writes David Yapkowitz.

David Yapkowitz

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It seems like almost every NBA season, the San Antonio Spurs end up selecting a player late in the draft who unexpectedly goes on to become a valuable contributor, sometimes even a star. The entire draft in itself can often be a crapshoot, but the lower the pick, the lower the chances of a team finding a solid rotation player. But with the Spurs, it’s as if they hit far more often than they miss.

Their pick from a year ago is shaping up to be no exception as the injury to starting point guard Tony Parker has opened up a huge opportunity for Dejounte Murray; one that he is taking advantage of.

There is a lot of preparation by analysts leading up to the NBA draft. Several mock drafts are created up until draft night itself. Murray was often projected to be a high first-round pick, possibly even a lottery pick. He had a solid freshman season at the University of Washington where he averaged 16.1 points per game, six rebounds, and 4.4 assists.

Draft night arrived and he ended up slipping to the bottom of the first round (29th overall), far later than he had anticipated. Following his selection, LeBron James himself, who is represented by the same sports agency as Murray, tweeted out some words of encouragement for the young rookie. He let Murray know that he may not have been drafted where he wanted to, but that he was with the best organization in the league.

Murray pretty much rode the bench last season as a rookie, which is not at all uncommon for a first-year player on a veteran team with championship aspirations. He was inactive for most of the final two months of the season. In the first round of the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, and most of the second round against the Houston Rockets, he was relegated to garbage time duty. Perhaps if he’d been drafted as high as initially projected, he might have had a bigger opportunity at getting minutes right away.

That all changed, however, against Houston in Game 2 when Parker went down with the injury that he is still recuperating from. Murray was thrust into the starting lineup and he responded as well as an inexperienced rookie under the bright lights of the playoffs could. In Game 4, although the Spurs lost, he had eight points on 50 percent shooting along with three assists. He actually didn’t play in Game 5, but in the Spurs closeout Game 6 win, he poured in 11 points, ten rebounds, five assists and two steals while shooting 50 percent from the field.

Even though the Spurs were ultimately swept in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors, Murray continued his steady play with 8.3 points, 3.8 assists, and three steals.

At the start of this season, Murray has taken his momentum from the end of last season and carried it over. He was given the starting point guard spot in place of Parker on opening night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He responded on national television with 16 points on 7-8 shooting from the field, five rebounds, two assists and two steals.

It’s still too early to tell, but it’s highly possible that the Spurs have found their starting point guard of the future once Parker eventually decides to hang it up. At 6-foot-5, Murray is a tall point guard and his length gives him the potential to develop into an elite defensive player. He can score the basketball and he is improving his court vision and playmaking.

One area he could improve in is his outside shooting. Although he did shoot 39.1 percent from the three-point line last season, he only took 0.6 attempts. In his lone college season, he shot 28.8 percent from downtown. If he can improve his range and really begin to put together his entire package of skills, we’ll be talking yet again about how the Spurs bamboozled the rest of the league and found a draft-day gem.

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NBA Saturday: Jabari Bird Experiences The NBA Whirlwind

Jabari Bird entered a hostile environment Friday night after being on his couch just three days before.

Dennis Chambers

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When Gordon Hayward suffered a season-ending injury six minutes into the Boston Celtics’ season on Wednesday, he wasn’t the only player who saw his season changed in the blink of an eye.

“I was at home in California watching the game as a fan,” Jabari Bird said.

Bird was the 56th overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. After playing his college ball at the University of California, the Celtics gave the 6-foot-6 swingman a shot to continue his career. After impressing throughout the preseason, Bird was signed to a two-way contract with Boston and returned home to the west coast.

That didn’t last long.

“After the game was over my phone was going off that I had to get on the quickest flight to Boston,” Bird said about opening night. “Got in 7:30 the next morning, suited up against Milwaukee, now I’m here in Philly.”

With the massive hole Hayward left in Boston’s roster due to his injury, the Celtics are going to have to turn to some unlikely performers throughout the season to pick up the slack. Bird didn’t light up the scoreboard or stuff his stat sheet, posting just three points and one rebound in 13 minutes of play. But down the stretch in a close game against the Philadelphia 76ers Friday night, Bird came up big on defense.

As the Celtics trailed the Sixers 61-53 with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, Bird subbed in for Jaylen Brown and was tasked with guarding J.J. Redick, who was in the midst of carrying Philadelphia with his lights out shooting.

After wiping away the Sixers lead and gaining an 86-84 advantage in the fourth quarter, the Celtics still had Bird sticking Redick. The Sixers’ shooting guard — and highest paid player — rose up for another three-point attempt which would’ve given Philadelphia a late lead and a momentum shift at home with a raucous crowd behind them. Only this time, Bird’s hand was in his face and the shot attempt didn’t find the back of the net.

In a big-time moment on the road, for a team facing a potential three-game losing streak to start the season, the unlikely rookie answered the call.

“Like I said before, he’s one of the best shooters in the NBA, really good perimeter scorer,” Bird said of Redick. “For the team to trust me with that responsibility, with us being down on the road needing to get a win, I was hyped up and ready to go. I was ready for the challenge.”

Placing such a responsibility like guarding Redick on a night where it seemed like the Sixers marksman couldn’t miss on a player who was sitting on his couch three nights ago seems like a bold strategy. Head coach Brad Stevens, however, knew what he was doing.

“All the way through preseason and training camp I felt like he was one of our better perimeter defenders,” Stevens said. “I think he has huge upside. His rebounding spoke for itself in preseason practices. His ability to guard off the ball, especially shooters coming off screens is just really good. He’s not afraid, and you knew he’d step up.”

Going from the couch to a red-eye flight from California to Boston, to the bench in Milwaukee, to the court in Philadelphia is nothing short of a whirlwind experience. With such a series of events, it’s hard to be coached into that moment. As a player, sometimes you have to just go out and play.

“I wasn’t prepared at all for tonight. Mentally I just had to lock into the game,” Bird said. “Coach just looked at me and said ‘Bird get Jaylen.’ ‘Alright.’ So that’s what I did.”

After signing Hayward to $127 million contract this summer, the Celtics were expecting the small forward to provide an elite scoring 1-2 scoring punch with Kyrie Irving. Obviously, at least for this season, Boston will need to move forward without that possibility. An opening night loss, followed by another defeat to Milwaukee the following night, had the Celtics 0-2 heading into Philadelphia and searching for answers a lot sooner than they may have anticipated just a week ago.

Bird’s journey during his first week in professional basketball represents how quickly things can change, and how the ripple effects of injuries and other moves have far outreaching waves.

“I was already packed, I was ready to go to the G-League,” Bird said. “We had training camp coming up. My bags were already packed, I was ready to get out the house. Then I got the call to go to Boston and I was like alright I’m ready to go, just gimmie a flight. And that’s what happened.”

All-star point guard, and Bird’s new teammate, Kyrie Irving doesn’t foresee the rookie leaving the clubhouse anytime soon. With the adversity the Boston Celtics have felt in the first week of the 2017-18 season, Bird’s addition and impact are a prime example of being ready when your number is called, and the culture this team is looking to create.

“Jabari is now probably gonna be on every trip with us,” Irving said. “Guys are gonna be called up and called upon to be ready to play. We just have to have that expectation that when we come into the game we’re gonna be able to play, and we trust one another and have each other’s backs.”

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Mavs Guard Devin Harris on Personal Leave from Team

Basketball Insiders

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Guard Devin Harris will take an indefinite leave from the Dallas Mavericks after the tragic death of his brother, Bruce.

“I was with him yesterday and just encouraged him that when he’s ready to come on back,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I don’t know when that will be. He can take as long as he needs.”

Source: Tim MacMahon of ESPN

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