In what might be the most unsurprising NBA trade rumor ever, new Timberwolves coach/GM/president/hall monitor/generalissimo Tom Thibodeau is apparently interested in making a trade to bring Jimmy Butler to the Twin Cities.
Marc Stein first broke the story on Twitter:
Story going online now with @chadfordinsider: Wolves making No. 5 overall pick available in hopes of tempting Bulls into Jimmy Butler trade
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) June 13, 2016
It didn't take long for Darren Wolfson to point out the obvious:
Good work from Marc. Word is Bulls won't do if AW not involved. If wanted to move JB, bet Bos. would give up No. 3. https://t.co/YBBxwCi8Es
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) June 14, 2016
The AW Wolfson references is Andrew Wiggins, the #1 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
The question, obviously, is "how much would Thibs give up in order to land the perfect player for the way he coaches"?
Obviously - and this cannot possibly be overstated - the deal starts with Wiggins and the #5 pick. Jimmy Butler is an All-Star, and one of the best two-way players in the entire NBA. And he is under contract for another three years at a bargain price. You don't give up a player like that without getting at least two quality prospects in return - and possibly a little more, depending on the quality of the prospects.
Let's start with Stein's report, and look at the #5 pick in this month's draft. Rumor has it that the Bulls are completely enamored with Providence PG Kris Dunn, and these two sentences from his Draft Express profile explain why that would be the case:
It takes little more than a few seconds of watching Dunn play before you realize why he has a bright future in the NBA. Dunn has an exceptional physical profile for a point guard in today's NBA, standing 6'4” in shoes, with a terrific frame, a long 6'9” wingspan, and elite quickness and leaping ability that place him in rarefied air by even NBA standards.
DX's draft scouting video provides more insight into why the Bulls would be highly interested in Dunn:
Obviously, the odds are highly stacked against Dunn (or anyone else the Bulls would pick at #5) making an All-Star Game and being named All-Defense by age 25 like Jimmy Butler did. In fact, it's almost certain that Dunn will never reach the levels of achievement that Jimmy Butler has, which is why an offer of #5 for Butler straight-up would be met with uncontrollable laughter on the Bulls end.
Andrew Wiggins, on the other hand, is a young player with true superstar potential. The 21-year-old former Rookie Of The Year is an outstanding athlete with the potential to match Jimmy Butler on the defensive end of the floor. His quickness and length allow him to switch any perimeter pick-and-roll, a huge staple of Jim Boylen's defensive system. And his foot speed should allow him to develop into a lockdown defender as he progresses.
That being said, Wiggins has the potential to develop into an elite offensive player who can explode and finish at the rim with the best in the league. He should become an absolute monster on the fast break, both as a finisher and as a ball-handler.
His offensive highlights from last season:
Wiggins does have plenty of downside, unfortunately - he is a poor rebounder for his height, his 3-point shooting leaves plenty to be desired (he shot a lower percentage last season than he did as a rookie), and his ball-handling is currently average at best.
Contrary to the beliefs of Wolves' fans - who seem to think that #5 for Butler is a fair deal - Wiggins and #5 very likely won't be enough to get the deal done. The Bulls are dealing from a position of strength here, as Thibs horribly wants to make the playoffs this season just to prove what a great coach he is. Which means that he'll give up a hell of a lot in order to land an All-Star to team with Karl-Anthony Towns.
A "sweetener", as Jerry Krause used to call it. In this case, either Gorgui Dieng or Shabazz Muhammad.
If Thibs doesn't think Butler is worth it, let's see him try to make the playoffs with a bunch of 21-year-olds next season. The Bulls will be more than happy to continue to build around Jimmy Butler.