The long-anticipated reunion between Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau is on.
The Chicago Bulls traded three-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and the 16th overall pick Thursday night to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick as the Wolves try to finally put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.
The trade brings together Butler and Wolves coach and president Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Butler gives Thibodeau the tough-minded scorer and hard-nosed defender that he has been searching for to complement a promising young core.
The Wolves paid a big price: Besides surrendering the lottery pick, they gave up a rising star in LaVine, who is coming off of a torn ACL and Dunn, last year’s No. 5 overall pick. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.
After a disappointing first season overseeing the operation, Thibodeau grabbed a fully grown pit bull to toughen the team up.
Butler played for Thibodeau for four seasons in Chicago, developing from an unheralded, late-first round draft pick into a perennial All-Star. The two strong-willed workaholics clashed on occasion during their time together and Butler said during the Olympics in Rio last summer that it was “love-hate” relationship.
But he also acknowledged that his appreciation for Thibodeau’s hard-driving style increased as time went on, especially when the Bulls struggled in their first season under the more player-friendly Fred Hoiberg. And according to a person with knowledge of the situation, Butler welcomes the move to Minnesota to join his old coach and a team loaded with young talent in Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Wolves drafted Arizona sharpshooter Lauri Markkanen for the Bulls at No. 7 and the Bulls took Creighton forward Justin Patton at No. 16 for the Wolves. Patton is a 6-foot-11 forward who was the Big…