Despite droves of rumours this offseason that the Chicago Bulls were willing to trade forward Jimmy Butler, their All-Star is staying put "for now," according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Having added multiple-time All-Star's Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade, the Bulls felt they were too good of a team to go into full rebuild mode.
Butler, 26, enjoyed the best year of his career last season. In 67 games, he averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 36.9 minutes per game. Despite battling with a left knee strain -- that caused him to miss 11 games -- Butler made his second All-Star team and carried the Bulls' offence.
"We like Jimmy Butler. We didn't shop Jimmy Butler," Bulls' general manager Gar Forman said to Nick Freidell of ESPN about the rash of rumours surrounding Butler this offseason. "We've read a number of things that are comical ... We never made a single call. We're not looking to move Jimmy."
The Houston, Texas, native showed he was worth the five-year, $95 million extension he signed with Chicago last July. But one player does not make up a team and the Bulls, under head coach Fred Hoiberg, played poorly down the stretch and missed the playoffs.
A change was needed.
The day before the NBA Draft, the Bulls traded hometown hero and former NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday and a 2017 second-round draft pick, to the New York Knicks in exchange for José Calderón, Jerian Grant, and Robin Lopez. It brought the injury-riddled Rose era in Chicago to an end.
"I knew it had to be one of us," Butler said of Rose's departure from Chicago. "I enjoyed playing with him. I have no bad thing to say about him."
In his place, the Bulls agreed to terms with Rondo on a two-year, $28 million contract.
Then, in a move that shocked the NBA, the Bulls agreed to terms with the longtime Miami Heat superstar Wade, on a two-year, $47.5 million deal. Forman told reporters, including Bleacher Report's Sean Highkin, that a rebuild was a never the plan.
"We didn't want to go into an absolute rebuild, but we wanted to get younger and more athletic. I think we accomplished those things," Forman said.
The additions of Wade and Rondo improved the backcourt but destroyed the team's future shooting percentage. Wade, Rondo, and Butler shot a combined 133 of 419 from three (31.7 percent) last season. As noted by Hoops Hype, Klay Thompson made 276 three-pointers by himself last season.
But Rondo and Wade are historically poor perimeter shooters.
Coming to play for a new team, Rondo expressed his understanding of the role he will play in Chicago. More importantly, he understands whose team he will play on.
"it's Jimmy's team. Jimmy, Wade and then whatever after that," Rondo said.
Trading Butler would have left a huge void on an already talent-deprived team. The additions of Rondo, Wade, and draft pick Denzel Valentine will help with scoring and passing. Adding Lopez's size and rim-protecting abilities will be a boost to an otherwise size-deprived team -- especially one that lost the defensive-minded Joakim Noah.
But if this season does not pan out, Butler's future in Chicago will likely be revisited. Forman admitted that Chicago was interested in top draft pick Kris Dunn but vehemently denied Butler was ever on the move.
Butler appeared on SportsNation recently and while he's aware of the trade rumours, his main focus is to play basketball.
"I know that whatever team I'm on, you're always going to get by best effort," Butler said. "Every single night, every day in practice. So that was my mind. I'm going to come into next year being better than last year, that's my goal as of right now...tomorrow, and the day after that."