After failing to swing a trade for the three-time NBA All-Star on draft night 2016, Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden landed an agreement with the Chicago Bulls to acquire Jimmy Butler during Thursday's 2017 draft.
The rumors were ongoing throughout most of Thursday that the Wolves should be considered, at the very least, a "team to focus on" in a potential swap for Butler.
Commissioner Adam Silver took the podium to begin the first round of the 2017 NBA draft shortly after 6:30PM. All was quiet. NBA fans around the nation knew what was coming: an announcement from Silver that "the 76ers are on the clock." There would be a brief respite, the commisioner would reemerge, and announce the pick that everybody already knew for the past three months – "with the first pick, the Philadelpia 76ers select... Markelle Fultz, Guard - Washington." Yawn.
But about 15 seconds after the announcement for the first overall pick, Twitter went nuts when trade rumors about Jimmy Butler began to look legit.
First, ESPN's Marc Stein indicated a potential blockbuster was on the horizon:
That's when Timberwolves fans started thinking this could be realthis time. Then, the NBA's news-breaking guru had it.
The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski – the man whose tweets include so much intel and knowledge, they are affectionately referred to as "Woj bombs."
The Timberwolves' offer of Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen (7th overall pick Thursday) was accepted by the Bulls in exchange for the 6'7", 230-pound Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton (16th overall pick Thursday).
What the Timberwolves gave up:
- Zach Lavine – Best known for his dunk-contest victories, but Wolves fans know he can actually play the game too. Offensively gifted, Lavine was having the best season of his young career and averaging nearly 19 points per game before he tore his ACL in February. The good news for Chicago? Lavine is still only 22 years old. Bulls fans will like what they see out of Lavine if he is able to get his knee back into game shape.
- Kris Dunn – Selected 5th overall in the 2016 NBA Draft after slipping to Minnesota. Dunn was selected to become the Timberwolves point guard of the future, but it became quickly apparent Dunn was not ready to quarterback an NBA offense. As a rookie, Dunn averaged only 17 minutes, 3.8 points, and 2.4 assists per game.
- Lauri Markkanen – Selected 7th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Arizona Wildcat by way of Finland is considered one the the draft's best shooters, but scouts believe he will need a lot of work on defense, and need time to grow into his wirey seven-foot-frame.
What the Timberwolves got:
- Jimmy Butler – 27 years old. 6'7" guard from Houston, TX. He was drafted 30th overall by Chicago out of Marquette in 2011. Butler originally made a name for himself on the defensive end of the floor; he is a three-time NBA All-defensive second team. However, Butler won the league's most improved player in 2015, because he developed a lethal offensive game too. Last season, Butler averaged 23.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game. Good enough to make the All-NBA third team. He played for Tom Thibodeau for four seasons in Chicago.
- Justin Patton - Selected 16th overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Creighton Bluejay is described as a raw, high-ceiling player. He is listed at 6'11", and has a knack for blocking shots on defense and throwing down dunks on offense. The center shot a whopping 67.6% from the field in his lone college season in the Big East conference.
The broadcasters were in agreement the Wolves got the better end of the deal. The Timberwolves sacrificed a lot to acquire the player that fans hope could get the team back into the NBA playoffs for the first time since 2004.