Storyline: Jimmy Butler Trade?

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Appearing on “The Bill Simmons Podcast,’’ Butler confirmed a Sun-Times story that when he left a June meeting with general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson, he did so feeling like he was going to stay a Bull. “I thought I was going to be there so I’m not going to say word for word what they said, but when I left there I did think I was going to be there,’’ Butler said. “But like I said, it’s a business and it is what it is. “I said [to them in the meeting] we were OK. I said a lot of things about the future that if I could control it I would do this, but I can’t.

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Reached for comment Thursday, Forman said in a text message, “Absolutely false! Never talked with Jimmy again after John [Paxson] and I had our meeting with him several weeks prior to the draft.” Given the chance Thursday to comment, Butler took the high road. “I already said how much love I have for the city of Chicago,” he said. “I don’t have anything to say about anybody in that organization, in that city. They took a chance on a kid from Tomball, [Texas], who didn’t know where he belonged. But now this new chapter, this new era, I’m looking forward to it.”

“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” said John Paxson, Bulls vice president of basketball operations. “We’ve gone through the past where we’d make the playoffs but not at a level we wanted to. In this league, success is not determined that way. So we’ve decided to make the change and rebuild this roster. And we’re going to do it through young players we believe can play a system that [coach] Fred [Hoiberg] is comfortable with. And we’re going to be disciplined and patient as we make decisions along the way.”

Ian Begley: Opposing executives believe Minnesota is considering using its No. 7 pick as part of a package to try to re-engage the Chicago Bulls on a trade for Jimmy Butler, ESPN has learned. The Cavs had previously tried to trade for Butler but were unsuccessful. Sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein that Butler earlier this week expressed a desire to remain in Chicago and lead the Bulls back to prominence. The Vertical reported earlier this week that Minnesota had preliminary talks with Chicago about Butler.

Bulls shopping Jimmy Butler

The Bulls routinely say they’ll take phone calls from teams about Butler’s availability around this time and at the trade deadline but this time around, multiple sources tell CSNChicago.com the Bulls are doing more than listening: they’re shopping Butler to many teams. It appears the Bulls have made the decision to try to jumpstart their rebuilding process and see what the best offer is for Butler as opposed to just gauging his value.

Former Cavaliers general manager David Griffin left for his successors potential trades to bring either Chicago’s Jimmy Butler or Indiana’s Paul George to the team, sources told cleveland.com, and one or more deals Griffin constructed could happen without him. In either case, a third team would be involved and would take All-Star forward Kevin Love in exchange for the mix of picks and role players the Bulls and Pacers seek to rebuild in the event they choose to deal their franchise player.

According to multiple sources out of Cleveland, not only have Cavaliers players – including LeBron James and Kyrie Irving – been reaching out to Butler directly and through back channels over the last five days to gauge his interest, but liked what they heard back from the Bulls three-time All-Star. One of the sources indicated that Butler would even push his front office to get the deal done, which is a huge change of direction for Butler, who has told both general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson numerous times over the last year that he didn’t want to be traded.

Should the Heat be interested in acquiring Paul George from the Pacers? — Daniel, Miami. A: I don’t know if they “should be,” but I know that they will consider every and any possibilities when it comes to elite-level players, be it George or Jimmy Butler, when those respective teams are eliminated from the playoffs. For as much as Pat Riley praised what the Heat have in place, the reality is that you win in the NBA with elite-level talent surrounded by the proper supporting pieces. But if a playoff team is to move on from such a talent, it likely will require a top-tier piece and a youth element in return. So if you’re talking about George or Butler, you’re probably also talking about Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic in return. When it comes to the youth element, the Heat do not have a first-round pick to offer in return, although there is the youth of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson. So, to instead offer the simplest response: Yes, absolutely, should a player of that ilk come on the market.
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