The Cleveland Cavaliers are looking into multi-team scenarios that would allow them to acquire star swingman Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls, according to ESPN’s Marc Stein:

The Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson says that the Phoenix Suns are a possibility for the third team in this potential trade, and Johnson —
a longtime Bulls beat writer — is notorious for dumping a bucket of cold water on the Jimmy Butler rumors, so perhaps there really is something to this one.

Johnson also seems to believe the Suns are a team to watch for Butler themselves.

Additionally, The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski says that the Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves “made preliminary” contact on a Butler deal, and mentions Minnesota’s assets that could potentially allow for a deal to get done:

And then there of course have been the rumors of the Boston Celtics going after Butler, especially after the Celtics acquired an additional future first-round pick with the Markelle Fultz trade.

So, Butler has been linked to the Cavs, Celtics, Suns, and Timberwolves over the last few days.

But the Cavs’ rumor is definitely the most eye-opening possibility. The Cavs were clearly a level below the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, and, the Warriors are going to run out the same group of stars — Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, etc. — in their prime next season.

Naturally, the Cavs are now looking for another star to be able to catch up to Golden State’s SuperTeam. They’ve been linked to Paul George as a rental trade possibility, with the Indiana Pacers’ star reportedly intending to leave via free agency next offseason.

And now there’s this Butler rumor. Butler is coming off his best NBA season, in which he averaged 23.9 points,  5.5 assists, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.9 steals per game. He was eighth in the NBA in estimated wins added with 20.5. He was a legitimate star, and on both ends of the floor.

The problem for the Cavs in working out such a deal, is that they don’t have the assets (unless they want to give up LeBron or Kyrie!) to get a one-on-one deal done with the Bulls. They need another team to enter the trade as Marc Stein said, and it seems the Suns could be that team, as K.C. Johnson suggested.

In this scenario, it’s believed that Kevin Love would go to the Suns, with draft picks and young players going to the Bulls, and then Butler of course to Cleveland. I find it a little hard to believe that a rebuilding Suns organization would really want a 29-year-old (in September) Kevin Love instead of draft picks and young players, but who knows.

Whatever the case, it seems any scenario that brings Butler to the Cavs would include sending Love to a third team in the trade.

Butler playing next to LeBron would be very interesting, as the two share similar skillsets and body types. They’re both better as playmakers with the ball in their hands, and then you also have to factor in Kyrie Irving being there too. However, as we saw with there being similar concerns with LeBron and Dwyane Wade in Miami, and then Durant/Curry/Thompson in Golden State, that sort of stuff usually works itself out. Superstars will learn to play together and talent usually wins out in the end.

As for the Bulls, it’s probably in their best interest to sell on Butler now if they can acquire high draft picks and young talent. They’re stuck in the middle right now, which is the worst place to be in the NBA (especially when the Warriors, Cavs, and Celtics appear to be so much ahead of everyone else for the next few years). Butler is a legitimate star and those are so difficult to find, but he also turns 28 in September and it’s hard to see the Bulls building a title team around him in the next few years (and he’s likely to be declining by the time they find such supporting pieces). Accepting what they are and going for the full-on rebuild is likely the wiser course of action.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.