The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to engage the Chicago Bulls in multiteam trade scenarios that would enable the Eastern Conference champions to acquire Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that the Cavaliers, in addition to their reported interest in Indiana’s Paul George, are trying to assemble trade packages that would convince the Bulls to part with Butler, 27, who is fresh off the best season of his career.
It’s believed that the Cavaliers, by offering All-Star forward Kevin Love, could recruit a third team that would supply the sort of young players and/or draft picks sure to be more appealing to Chicago than the limited trade assets on Cleveland’s roster.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the Phoenix Suns, who have the No. 4 pick in Thursday night’s draft as well as an available first-rate point guard in Eric Bledsoe, are a potential third-team facilitator in such a scenario.
One league source told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, meanwhile, that the Cavaliers already have been offered George in a multiteam trade scenario that would cost them Love and involve an unnamed third team.
Until Monday, the Boston Celtics had long been regarded as the primary trade suitor for Butler, given that they potentially possess seven first-round picks in the next three drafts that they could use to tempt the Bulls into surrendering one of the game’s best two-way players. The seventh of those future picks was acquired Monday when Boston completed its trade with Philadelphia that swapped the Nos. 1 and 3 picks in Thursday’s draft.
If he stays in Chicago, Butler would be eligible for a so-called “super max” contract extension exceeding $200 million in the summer of 2018 should he earn an All-NBA berth next season as he did this season. But sources say the Bulls, as expected, are getting numerous trade calls on Butler and could be moved to try to schedule 11th-hour meetings this week with top-tier draft prospects such as Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox if talks get serious.
This past season, Butler averaged career bests of 23.9 points, 5.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game.
McMenamin reported Sunday night that when it comes to Indiana’s George, Cleveland is willing to enter into trade talks without any assurances George will commit to a long-term deal. The Cavaliers are confident, McMenamin reported, that their championship culture could convince George to want to stay beyond the 2017-18 season, despite George’s reported desire to land with the Los Angeles Lakers as a 2018 free agent.
On Monday night, meanwhile, the Cavaliers parted ways with general manager David Griffin.
One source told ESPN on Monday that any Cleveland trade discussions leading up to the draft have been “cursory,” due to Griffin’s contract situation. (His contract was set to expire June 30.) But the Cavs are widely expected by rivals to be very aggressive in the offseason trade market in the wake of Cleveland’s 4-1 NBA Finals defeat to the Golden State Warriors and with face of franchise LeBron James entering the final year of his contract.
With Griffin out, the Cavs’ front office will be run by a conglomeration of Koby Altman, Brock Aller, Tony Leotti, Jon Nichols and Mike Gansey, according to a team source. Team owner Dan Gilbert is also “very engaged” in the Cavs’ business right now as they prepare for the draft and field potential trade opportunities, according to the source.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin contributed to this report.