Chicago Bulls Rumors: Radar zoning Sixers Jimmy Butler?

(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Jimmy Butler relationship with the Chicago Bulls is well documented. Despite a rough breakup, recent events tease the mending of an old bond.

Few players in the post-Jordan era have endeared themselves to Chicago Bulls fans quite like Jimmy Butler. In six seasons with the Bulls, Butler progressed from an end-of-bench player to one of the best players in the league, earning the nickname ‘Jimmy Buckets’.

During that time, Butler won the Most Improved Player award, was selected to the All-Star Game and All-Defensive Team three times each, and was even named to the All-NBA team in 2017 alongside players like John Wall and Draymond Green.

You can imagine then, the reaction evoked from fans when Butler was spotted dining with Chicago Bulls coach Jim Boylen. It was only a matter of time before imaginations started running wild.

On the surface, it may not seem like that big of a deal. It’s only a dinner. However, when you consider Butler’s relationship with Boylen it may hint at the possibility of a reunion in Chicago.

Butler and the feud between former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg was the center of Chicago’s locker room issues prior to the blockbuster trade that brought LaVine, Markkanen and Dunn to the Windy City. Butler and Dwayne Wade also had big issues with the apparent work ethic and culture of the younger players on the roster.

Fred Hoiberg is now back to coaching college basketball. Bobby Portis, Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott and Jerian Grant were all dealt to other teams. The remainder of that Bulls team is either barely skirting by for survival or out of the league entirely. Only Robin Lopez, Denzel Valentine, and Cris Felicio have stayed with the Bulls since the 2016-17 campaign.

A total roster re-haul and a coach that pushes a competitive culture eerily reminiscent to Tom Thibodeau is exactly what Jimmy wanted. In retrospect, it now makes much more sense that Butler advocated for the hiring of Boylen in the wake of media backlash after Hoiberg was given his walking papers.

"“I really enjoyed playing with Jimmy… You love playing with dogs like that. I found it very enjoyable. He’s always looking to make the right play. He always has your back. I appreciate that so much.” -Robin Lopez"

Having entered the league late, Butler’s slow start would ingratiate itself with the Bulls rebuilding timeline. With only 523 games under his belt, it’s likely Butler is still a very good player even four or five years down the road. With 55 games of playoff experience and a long list of NBA accolades and achievements, he could be exactly what the young Bulls need to push back into contention.

Financially, a few strings would have to be pulled to make room for Butler but the Bulls have enough financial flexibility to pursue him in a number of ways. With approximately 22 million dollars of cap room heading into free agency, dealing Otto Porter or a combination of Kris Dunn, Cris Felicio and/or the seventh selection in this year’s draft would need to be in place in order to offer Jimmy a competitive deal.

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Although it may seem a hefty price to pay, the Bulls could retain their core building blocks while adding a legitimate top 15 player in the league. With Butler, Chicago could return to the playoffs as early as next year and stay there for years to come with the invaluable locker room leadership and expertise he’d ingrain onto the developing core.