OPINION: The Chicago Bulls Screwed Up By Not Keeping Jimmy Butler
After the 2016-17 season and the circus that ensued, I was ready for the Chicago Bulls to trade Jimmy Butler to embark on a rebuild. I was wrong.
As I sit here typing this, I want to be fully transparent. After the Three-Alphas of Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, and Jimmy Butler teamed up in the 2016-17 NBA season and the circus that ensued, I was ready for the Chicago Bulls to embark on a rebuild.
I was ready to start from scratch and get over the Derrick Rose era that had escaped us Bulls fans prematurely. Trade all of the assets the team had built up and just start over. Well, that’s exactly what they did, and you know what? We’re still paying for it.
At the time, Jimmy Butler was eligible for the NBA “super-max” contract. The Bulls had a decision to make: pay Jimmy, who was becoming a star, or trade him and build a new team. On the night of the 2017 NBA Draft, the Bulls traded Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and the seventh overall pick, which turned out to be Lauri Markkanen.
The rebuild looked promising, but there was no clear number one guy. The Bulls just traded their number one guy to obtain all of this young talent. Every single one of the players the Chicago Bulls acquired has battled injuries, has been inconsistent, and they have collectively failed to lead this team to victories.
Now, Zach LaVine is coming off a fantastic season which he can build upon, Lauri Markkanen has shown flashes of being a dangerous scoring big, and Kris Dunn has been very good defensively. But none of those guys have shown that they can be “the guy”.
We can sit here and talk about how Jimmy had problems in Minnesota and forced his way out through a trade in the beginning of his second season there, even though he led them to their first playoff appearance in 15 years in the 2017-18 season. We can talk about his time in Philadelphia with the 76ers and how he caused some problems with head coach Brett Brown because he said he wasn’t utilizing talent correctly.
But honestly? It’s all crap. And I’ve been a guy who’s called him a locker room cancer; I’ve been a guy who said he can’t lead him his team to the Finals. Do you know where I’m at now? Eating crow.
I loved Jimmy out of Marquette in the 2011 NBA Draft. I thought he possessed great athleticism, decent defensive abilities, and a solid work ethic to go along with it. But I became jaded toward him and how his relationship with the Bulls ended.
Listen, I don’t work in an NBA front office, I’m just a fan who has season tickets and doesn’t miss any games. It shows you how incompetent this front office was by not realizing what they had here and it hurts all the more as a fan realizing what they had.
All-in-all, my opinion changed not because Jimmy Butler led the Heat to the Finals, but because of the respect and love his teammates have for him. When he was with the Bulls, the younger players didn’t have that respect for him because they weren’t winners on an NBA level. They thought they were being bullied by him when all he was trying to do was show them how to win.
I never thought I would speak these words, but I hope Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat take down LeBron James and the Los Angles Lakers in the 2020 NBA Finals. Jimmy has become a superstar in front of all NBA fans’ eyes and he did it his way.