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Jimmy Butler Traded to Minnesota in Draft Night Blockbuster - This Is Sports Zone

The Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls in a draft-night deal that reunites him with former coach Tom Thibodeau. The Wolves received the 16th overall pick in Thursday night’s draft, which was used to select Justin Patton, the freshman center from Creighton. The Bulls, meanwhile, acquired guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine as well as the seventh overall pick Thursday night, which was used to select seven-footer Lauri Markkanen from Arizona.

Dunn was last year’s fifth overall pick, and LaVine, who averaged 18.9 points last season before suffering a torn ACL, was the 13th pick in 2014. Markkanen, meanwhile, is the first Finnish-born player drafted in the lottery. His 69 three-pointers last season were the most by a seven-footer in college basketball in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Following the Butler deal, Minnesota’s odds to win the 2017-18 NBA title improved from 100-1 to 60-1 at Westgate Las Vegas. The Bulls went from 100-1 to 200-1.

The trade means a reunion for Butler and Wolves head coach Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Butler, 27, played for Thibodeau for four of those seasons. He gives Thibodeau the tough-minded scorer and hard-nosed defender that he has been searching for to complement a promising young core in Minnesota. Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists last season and has made the all-defense second team three times. He will now join a lineup that boosting two budding stars in former first overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns, in addition to Ricky Rubio at point guard and Gorgui Dieng at power forward, forming what should be one of the more exciting starting fives in the West.

When Thibodeau was hired as team president and coach last summer, he quickly set his sights on bringing Butler to Minnesota. The two sides engaged in serious discussions on draft night last year, nearly reaching a deal that would have included LaVine and Dunn — whom the Bulls were very high on coming out of Providence — for Butler. The deal could not be completed, and Butler went through a frustrating season with the Bulls, who brought in Wade and Rajon Rondo in hopes of squeezing some more immediate success out of the group.

Thursday’s move represents the first significant steps toward an overhaul for the Bulls. Despite a spirited effort, the Bulls were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wade opted in for the final year of his contract but that isn’t stopping Chicago from pivoting to a new, younger nucleus that includes LaVine, Dunn and Denzel Valentine. Meanwhile, one of Butler’s trainers, Travelle Gaines, voiced his displeasure with the deal in a tweet, saying the Bulls have “the worst culture in the league.”

Butler heads to Minnesota following reports this week that the Cleveland Cavaliers had expressed serious interest in trading for him. Sources told ESPN on Tuesday that the Cavs were notified Butler preferred to stay with the Bulls and would be reluctant to commit his long-term future to Cleveland.

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