Will Chicago Bulls trade Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose?
The NBA Finals aren't even over and the Chicago Bulls already are knee deep into rumor season.
So let's not waste time and just dive into all this talk.
First, let's just mention this:
I do not expect the Bulls to attempt any sort of total rebuild. They're not a "championship or bust" team. Fifty wins and the second round of the playoffs is a desirable result for next season.
If they can progress into title contention, great, but keeping the United Center full is the primary focus.
Keep in mind, chairman Jerry Reinsdorf turned 80 earlier this year. He has no desire to relive the disastrous 1999-2004 rebuild.
Also, if Pau Gasol leaves as expected this summer, the Bulls have plenty of young players to build around. When the season begins, Derrick Rose will be 28, Jimmy Butler 27, Nikola Mirotic 25, Doug McDermott 24. Taj Gibson and Joakim Noah should still be in their prime years at 31.
Bulls management doesn't appear to have a grand plan for this summer. Right now, they're looking and listening, seeing what options might be available.
After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Bulls probably will try to make some sort of splash this summer. But what can they do? Time for a round of rumor-check:
• Minnesota is willing to give up the No. 5 draft pick in a deal for Jimmy Butler.
This one doesn't make much sense. If the Bulls do trade Butler, they'll be looking for an established star in return.
The Timberwolves aren't giving up Andrew Wiggins or Karl Anthony Towns, which pretty much ruins that requirement.
That makes slam-dunk star Zach LaVine the likely target in any Butler trade. Is LaVine a future star or a future member of the all-flash team.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard averaged 14 points in his second NBA season, so he has potential. Trading a two-time all-star for potential is usually a bad strategy.
This hypothetical deal could be expanded to include backup center Gorgui Dieng, but that would give the Bulls two players they could have had in recent drafts. They went with Tony Snell instead of Dieng and McDermott over LaVine. Awkward.
• Boston and the Lakers also have interest in Butler.
This is generally considered a two-player draft, with LSU's Ben Simmons and Duke's Brandon Ingram at the top. Boston has the third pick, which leads to this question: Who is the third-best player in the draft?
Is it Dragan Bender, who averaged 2.1 points for Maccabi Tel Aviv last season? Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Kentucky's Jamal Murray? You get the idea. There are no sure things in the draft.
The Celtics do have some players to sweeten the deal, such as combo guard Avery Bradley, who averaged 15.2 points and is considered a solid defender.
If nothing else, Boston figures to be a better option than Minnesota as a trade partner.
It will be tougher to pry away the Lakers' No. 2 pick, but they also have no established veterans. Guard Jordan Clarkson or forward Julius Randle probably would be the best targets.
• Philadelphia is willing to trade one of its young big men.
Chicago native Jahlil Okafor is an intriguing name to hit the trade rumor market. He's sort of like a young Al Jefferson with good post scoring skills. Defense and everything else is in question.
Nerlens Noel, who can fill the stat sheet, might be a better option, but not for Butler, and it will be tough for the Bulls or anyone to pry the No. 1 pick away from the Sixers.
What would the Sixers take for Noel or Okafor? Mirotic and Gibson? File this one in the "unlikely" category.
• The Bulls are willing to part with Derrick Rose.
Sure they are. But with his injury history and one more year left on his contract at $21 million, what team would want him?
Anything is possible, but it's tough to envision a scenario where the Bulls can get anything beyond a bad contact in return for Rose. And, no, the Bulls are not turning over the keys to the offense to a rookie point guard drafted at No. 14.
• Joakim Noah told teammates he's planning to leave as a free agent.
There's probably truth to all sides in this one. Noah was frustrated by the rift between Bulls management and former coach Tom Thibodeau, along with the 2013 decision to fire assistant coach Ron Adams -- that's already been written.
But nothing can happen in NBA free agency until July 1 and it wouldn't be smart for Noah, coming off two injury-riddled seasons, to eliminate any of his options for a new contract.
It will take a good sales job, but Noah re-signing with the Bulls is at least a possibility.
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