In his first interview since Thursday night’s blockbuster trade, All-Star Jimmy Butler told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that he’s not mad at the Bulls, but he does wish the organization handled certain things differently leading up to the deal.
Butler’s name had been rumored in trade talks for much of the past year. Chicago opted to make a deal Thursday night, sending the face of its franchise and the 16th pick of the draft (Creighton center Justin Patton) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick (Arizona 7-footer Lauri Markkanen).
“I guess being called the face of an organization isn’t as good as I thought,” Butler, 27, told the Sun-Times from Paris, where he first learned of the trade. “We all see where being the so-called face of the Chicago Bulls got me. So let me be just a player for the Timberwolves, man. That’s all I want to do. I just want to be winning games, do what I can for my respective organization and let them realize what I’m trying to do.
“Whatever they want to call me … face … I don’t even want to get into that anymore. Whose team is it? All that means nothing. You know what I’ve learned? Face of the team, eventually you’re going to see the back of his head as he’s leaving town, so no thanks.”
Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson joined ESPN Chicago’s “Waddle and Silvy” on Friday and addressed Butler’s comments. Paxson was asked whether the Bulls told Butler there was a chance he would be traded.
“We’ve always said that to everybody,” Paxson said. “I don’t know how many times we have to say it publicly. We’ve said these type of things can always happen. … These are the hardest things to do, when you move a player that you’ve invested so much time in, who you’ve watched grow and develop as a player.
“The implication in the question is that we aren’t honest, and it’s not fair. … All we’ve ever said publicly and privately — have I not said the only player I’ve ever been…