Zach LaVine thinks trade to get him from Timberwolves looks a lot better now after Jimmy Butler drama
When the Chicago Bulls traded All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the summer of 2017 for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the draft rights to Lauri Markkanen, experts around the league said the Timberwolves robbed the Bulls, and that Chicago didn’t know what they were doing.
Butler, who is arguably a top-15 player in the NBA, had a productive first year with the Timberwolves. He averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game during the regular season, and guided Minnesota to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
Meanwhile, Dunn and LaVine had their ups and downs in Chicago. In 52 games, Dunn averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 6.0 assists, but there were questions about his work ethic. Zach LaVine only played in 24 games after missing majority of the season recovering from left ACL surgery. The high-flyer posted 16.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.0 assists. His defense was atrocious at times, though, and his restricted free agency was a little bumpy. LaVine signed a four-year, $78 million offer sheet with the Sacramento Kings. The Bulls ultimately matched it, but LaVine said he was disappointed he had to get an offer sheet from another team.
However, fast forward to today, and the narrative surrounding the Jimmy Butler trade has totally changed. The four-time All-Star has requested a trade from the Timberwolves and is causing the franchise to tear itself apart from the inside, while Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen are the future in Chicago. LaVine has been paying attention to the Butler saga and told James Herbert of CBS Sports that the Bulls definitely won the trade.
“Oh, yeah. There were some people that said that from the get-go, but there’s always going to be initial reactions,” LaVine said. “It’s almost like the same as contracts: There’s going to be initial reactions because people have strong opinions. Fans live and die with their team. If you’re playing good one day, they’re on you. If you’re playing bad one day, they hate you. You have to understand that and deal with that as a professional; you can’t take it too personal.
“I definitely think it was a good trade for the Bulls. I strongly support that. I bet a lot of Timberwolves fans right now, it would have been Kris Dunn, me, Andrew [Wiggins], [Karl-Anthony Towns] and Lauri. That’s a pretty good young lineup right there. But choice is everything, and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with their choice. They went to the playoffs for the first time and Jimmy led them to winning. Jimmy’s an outstanding player and he’s one of the top players in the NBA. You can see it both ways, but that’s their team now. I have mine over here in Chicago and we’re trying to build something good. “
Even though Markkanen is going to be out until possibly Thanksgiving with a right elbow injury, his future is very bright. The 7-footer exceeded expectations and produced at a high level during his rookie season, averaging 15.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 68 games. He made the All-Rookie first-team and every Bulls fan is excited for his return to the court.