Why a Jimmy Butler trade makes sense for the Chicago Bulls

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Conventional wisdom in the NBA dictates that when you land a superstar, you hold on to him.

You can either find a way to pair other stars with them, or -- if they're good enough -- build a team around them.

However, because the Chicago Bulls failed last summer to retool on the fly around Jimmy Butler, the team must now consider dealing the star in a top-down rebuild.


When the NBA All-Star Game begins on Sunday night in New Orleans, the star power will be astounding.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving over here for the East, representing the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry over there for the West, repping this year's favorites from Golden State. An MVP front-runner in James Harden, the game's best two-way player in Kawhi Leonard, and league-changing talents in Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo will gather for the tip.

And Butler... who absolutely belongs there.

The former Marquette player is a fantastic scorer, averaging 24.4 points per game, and strong defender, who made second-team all-defense last season.


Last summer, the Bulls had a great chance to start building around Butler and made a great first step by trading away franchise face Derrick Rose, unloading his contract and picking up a couple usable pieces.

However, when free agents Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade became available, the front office team of Gar Forman and John Paxson could not help themselves.

Rondo and Wade were great players and proven winners (key word: were).

As the NBA moves to a quick passing and 3-point shooting league, however, their skills only fit within a certain context, and not with each other.

They certainly don't fit with coach Fred Hoiberg, who was brought along to help the Bulls transition to the modern pace-and-space shift. Nor did they fit the Bulls stated goal of getting younger and faster.

Both are ball dominators on a team where Butler, the team's best player, needed the ball as much as possible.

Unsurprisingly, the Bulls season has been lackluster, and the team enters Thursday's game against Boston in the seventh playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.


Coincidentally, it's those Celtics who make the most sense for Chicago to partner with in trade discussions.

Boston is a rumored trade partner for many of the game's stars, including DeMarcus Cousins of Sacramento and, lately, Paul George of the Indiana Pacers.

That's because Boston has intriguing young talent and a bevy of future draft picks, including lowly Brooklyn's next two first-round picks, and future first-rounders from the L.A. Clippers and Memphis.

The Celtics have positioned themselves to be a power in the East for many years by collecting assets such as young players and high draft picks. That's exactly the model the Bulls should be replicating.

The problem is, the only way to get from here to there is by selling their most prized asset in Butler, who was the 30th pick of the 2011 draft.

Outside of Boston, other possible destinations include Minnesota, where Butler has a fan in his former coach Tom Thibodeau; and the L.A. Lakers, who have young assets and are always interested in star power.

Recently, news broke that Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf has ensured Paxson and Forman that their jobs are safe through the summer.

That should give them the confidence to take a step backward in order to move forward, trading Butler at the deadline this year or in the offseason.

As painful as it will be.

Doug McDermott
Chicago Bulls
Central Division
Eastern Conference
Boston Celtics
Atlantic Division
Nikola Mirotic
Jimmy Butler
Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat
Southeast Division

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