Butler goes to Wolves in draft-night mega-deal

The Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls, a big draft-night deal that reunites the three-time All-Star with former coach Tom Thibodeau.

The Wolves received the No. 16 overall pick in Thursday night’s draft, which was used to select Justin Patton, the freshman center out of Creighton.

The Bulls, meanwhile, acquired guards Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine as well as the No. 7 overall pick Thursday night, which was used to select 7-footer Lauri Markkanen.

Butler was in Paris when he learned of the trade, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman. He found out from his agent, Bernie Lee, at about 2 a.m. Paris time.

When asked about the deal, Butler told Goodman he did not have a comment.

Butler was in France, along with several other NBA players, including Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony, where they were attending the Paris fashion shows.

Dunn was last year’s No. 5 overall pick, and LaVine, who averaged 18.9 points last season before suffering a torn ACL, was the No. 13 pick in 2014.

Markkanen, meanwhile, is the first Finnish-born player drafted in the lottery. His 69 3-pointers last season were the most by a 7-footer in college basketball in the past 20 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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, gives Thibodeau the tough-minded scorer and hard-nosed defender that he has been searching for to complement a promising young core. Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.5 assists last season and has made the all-defense second team three times.

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 Dwyane 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.

The Bulls said farewell to Butler in a tweet later Thursday.

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 is long-term future to Cleveland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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