It might be time to hold off on those Jimmy Butler trade rumors.
In a sign of commitment not present at management’s season-ending postmortem, the Bulls have asked their two-time All-Star to represent the franchise on the dais at the May 17 NBA draft lottery, sources said.
Butler, who has been working out in Los Angeles, is headed back to Chicago soon. He then is scheduled to travel to New York and join longtime media relations official Matt Yob, who will be the Bulls’ presence in the lottery’s backroom.
The Bulls, sitting 14th as the non-playoff team with the best record, have just an 0.5 percent chance at the top pick and a 1.8 percent chance to move into the top three.
After the Celtics made an underwhelming offer for Butler at the February trade deadline, trade rumors flared anew when general manager Gar Forman said last month “we have to explore all options” when asked directly about committing to Butler as a franchise centerpiece.
The Tribune reported last weekend that despite the comment irking Butler, a trade remained unlikely. Postseason organizational meetings left management in the same position as in February, that it would take a blockbuster offer of at least one high-profile player, a rotation player and multiple first-round picks for the Bulls even to consider listening to Butler offers.
Sending Butler to New York as the public face of the franchise seemingly would make any deal even more of a non-starter.
The Bulls are in the draft lottery for the first time since 2008, when they overcame 1.7 percent odds to land the top pick and, ultimately, Derrick Rose. Their underwhelming 42-40 season featured Butler earning his second All-Star selection but occasionally rankling some with his newfound and public attempts at leadership.
That included Butler calling out coach Fred Hoiberg last December in New York to “coach harder.” Hoiberg embraced the controversy as a growing moment in his relationship with Butler and, according to sources, the two had a strong exit meeting in advance of an important offseason.
Beyond his well-known offseason workout regimen, Butler will play his role with an attempt at lottery luck.
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