The Bulls continue to prepare for the June 23 draft by working out potential fits who might be available with the 14th pick, including Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine this week.
Posturing, meanwhile, will increase during the run-up to the draft, which is the NBA’s second-busiest time for trade talks behind the February trade deadline. And along those lines, ESPN.com reported Monday the Timberwolves are dangling the No. 5 pick in the hope of engaging the Bulls in talks for two-time All-Star Jimmy Butler.
The Bulls — who the Tribune reported last month are intrigued by Providence guard Kris Dunn, a likely top-five pick — are in the driver’s seat regarding Butler because he’s the decorated and proven player. They can ask for quite a haul because they’re in no hurry to trade him.
In fact, a source familiar with the Bulls’ plans said they would ask for 2014 No. 1 pick and promising swingman Andrew Wiggins in any discussions for Butler.
That former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is now the Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations adds an intriguing subplot to the potential talks.
Though the Bulls sent signals to the league that Butler wasn’t readily available by having him represent the franchise on the dais at last month’s draft lottery, several league executives expect the Celtics to take another run at him. They presented an underwhelming offer in February that the Bulls didn’t seriously entertain.
The Celtics could present an intriguing package including the No. 3 pick and players such as Jae Crowder. The Magic also have been linked to Butler.
Coach Fred Hoiberg recently visited Butler and several other Bulls who make their offseason homes in the Los Angeles area, including Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Tony Snell. Butler spoke favorably last month of his relationship with Hoiberg, whom he publicly called out last season.
“I think we’re on a pretty good page right now,” he said. “I’m not going to say we’re alike in every single way, but we both want to win and we both have the team’s best interest at heart.
“It’s learning for both of us. I have to learn more about him. He has to learn more about me. That’s what this summer is for. I’ll sit down and have a beer with the guy.”
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