(CBS) Cavaliers stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have reached out to Bulls wing Jimmy Butler through back channels to gauge his interest in joining Cleveland in a trade, the Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley reported Tuesday morning.
On Monday, then-Cavaliers general manager David Griffin was reported to be working feverishly to find a third team to pull into a potential deal revolving around Butler, but that quest appeared to hit a roadblock when news broke in the early evening that Griffin was out as general manager. His contract was set to expire June 30, and assistant general manager Trent Redden also left after Cleveland reached three straight NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers are seeking to add another star since losing to the Warriors in five games in the Finals. Butler has played with Irving on Team USA and is open to a trade to the Cavaliers, Cowley reported. That stance would mark a change from Butler’s previous approach, as he’s said on multiple occasions he would like to remain a Bull.
“I love Chicago so very much,” Butler recently said during an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live. “Thank you, thank you, Chicago. And they took a chance on me in 2011 with the 30th pick, so I’m forever grateful for that.”
Any Butler-centered trade between the Bulls and Cavaliers would need to include a third team, because trading Butler would mark the start of a rebuild for Chicago, and Cleveland doesn’t boast desirable young players or draft picks. The Suns could potentially be a third team in a Bulls-Cavaliers deal, the Tribune’s K.C. Johnson reported Monday.
Butler was also tied to the Timberwolves in a trade rumor Monday. A three-time All-Star, the 27-year-old Butler is coming off a season in which he posted career-best marks of 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game while shooting 45.5 percent.
In early May, Bulls executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson hinted the organization wouldn’t be capable of making major change until summer 2018. Of course, he added the Bulls “have an obligation as an organization to always keep your mind open,” and a trade of Butler is the one major change Chicago can make.
“The landscape is such that to make significant change right now will be difficult,” Paxson said. “From that perspective, to think that we could just up and massively move pieces and parts is not realistic. It’s not. We have guys signed to contracts. We made the statement last year we were investing in the young guys. I know it sounds like a broken record, but it’s the truth.”
Butler is currently on vacation in Europe. He spent at least part of Monday in London.