Comparing the Jimmy Butler trade to other recent big NBA trades

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the third quarter of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 26: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls looks on during the third quarter of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 26, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

At a quick glance, the Chicago Bulls’ trade of Jimmy Butler looked really bad, but comparatively, it’s actually okay.

What the Chicago Bulls got back in the Jimmy Butler trade was underwhelming, to say the least. At the time, it felt like Tom Thibodeau was exacting his revenge on his former employers. Terms like fleeced, hoodwinked and highway robbery were tossed around.

Chants of “Fire GarPax!” started anew  (as well as GoFundMe campaigns). But, after seeing what the Pacers landed for Paul George, the return for Butler Isn’t looking so bad.

I’m not trying to defend GarPax. They’ve mismanaged this team, even before trading Butler for what feels like 50 cents on the dollar. I’m not trying to defend the trade either.

However, in comparison to the packages received by other teams who have recently traded an All-Star, the Butler deal was okay.

Look at what the Pacers got for Paul George

The Indiana Pacers and Paul George are the obvious comparison. Butler and George are similar players who play at the same position. Both are considered among the leagues best two-way wings. While George’s value was slightly depressed because of his shorter contract and rumors of him heading to the Los Angeles Lakers when said contract ends, it’s hard to find a better comparison.

More from Bulls History

Take a look at what the Pacers got for Paul George. They received Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. Oladipo is a fine player. He has two-way potential at the 2, which isn’t something that’s easy to find. But this season will be his fifth in the NBA. He’s seemed to have reached his ceiling. Oladipo has averaged 15.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game for his career. Oladipo is a solid starter, but that’s likely all he is.  He could develop in to an All-Star caliber player, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Sabonis is coming of a poor rookie season where he averaged 5.9 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. Despite his forgettable first season, he has potential and proved he can play a role on a playoff team. Time will tell what Sabonis could be, but as of now, it’s too early to say for sure.   What is safe to say is that neither Sabonis or Oladipo projects to get to a Paul George level of player. Considering Oladipo is already off his rookie deal and Sabonis looks to have limited potential, it’s a disappointing return for team entering a rebuilding phase.

The Kings Failed to get a fair return for DeMarcus Cousins

The Sacramento Kings know trading a superstar can be easier said then done. The Kings dealt DeMarcus Cousins at last season’s trade deadline with a full year left on his contract. Cousins is arguably one of the three best centers in the league and a top-20 player.

Live Feed

4 Teams that should trade for Tyler Herro
4 Teams that should trade for Tyler Herro /

All U Can Heat

  • Grade The Trade: Bucks add two-time All-Star in a deal with rivaling BullsBehind the Buck Pass
  • 4 Teams that need to trade for Hawks' Trae Young immediatelySoaring Down South
  • 3 teams who blew a golden opportunity by not signing Christian WoodFanSided
  • NBA rumors: Trae Young trade buzz, Andre Drummond is a comedian, Wemby and KAT team upFanSided
  • These NBA stars might switch teams sooner rather than laterAll U Can Heat
  • The return for Cousins? A disappointing package highlighted by rookie Buddy Hield. The Kings sent Cousins and Omri Casspi to the New Orleans Pelicans for Hield, the Pelicans’ 2017 first and second round draft picks, Tyreke Evans and Langston Galloway. Evans and Galloway were throw-ins for salary matching purposes and neither are long-term pieces in the Kings future.

    The real prize was Hield, a sharpshooting two-guard and what became the 10th pick in the 2017 draft. Not a very inspiring return for a franchise player.

    Trading a superstar is easier said then done!

    All this is to say it’s not easy to trade a star and get a fair return. In fact, it almost never works out that way.

    After the Brooklyn Nets horrendously over paid for Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett years ago, the trade value of stars seems to have fallen. Paul George went for a rookie coming off a bad season and an established starter. DeMarcus Cousins fetched a late lottery pick and a sharp shooting but unproven rookie.

    So, is it really  a surprise the Bulls only managed to get Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick for Butler?

    The Bulls return doesn’t look so bad after all

    If LaVine’s knee holds up, he’s already the best offensive player out of Oladipo, Sabonis and Hield. He’s also the second youngest player out of that group at 22. LaVine has tons of potential to become a two-way threat with his length and athleticism. Dunn and Sabonis both had disappointing rookie campaigns, but Dunn could already be the best defensive player of this group. You always hear defense is harder to learn than offense.

    Dunn’s got the defense down, and it wouldn’t be the first time Bulls fans watched a defensive stud turn in to a two-way player. On top of Dunn and LaVine, the Bulls also got the 7th pick in the draft: Lauri Markkanen. That’s a higher pick then what the Kings got and the Pacers didn’t even manage to get a second-rounder, let alone a first.

    It’s too early to tell who got the best deal out of the last three teams to trade their superstar. Hield could be the next Steph Curry. Maybe Oladipo was being held back by Russell Westbrook. Lauri Markkanen could become the next Dirk Nowitzki. That’s the beauty of it!

    Next: Why the Butler trade wasn't as bad as you thought it was

    Everyone likes to grade trades immediately after they’re made, but a fair assessment can’t be made till the full effects have been seen. Time will tell who made the best deal, but for now, the Bulls return is looking like the best of the bunch.