Jimmy Butler‘s ascension from All-Star status to early-season most valuable player buzz has justified the Bulls’ decision to avoid a total rebuild.
But make no mistake: Following the Derrick Rose trade, the internal draft-night debate on whether to trade Butler to the Celtics was real. And the Bulls, according to multiple sources at the time, held advanced discussions with the Celtics centered on Butler and the No. 3 overall pick.
If the Bulls had pulled the trigger, they would’ve drafted Providence point guard Kris Dunn, who went to Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves at No. 5. Despite being slotted at No. 14, where they ultimately selected Denzel Valentine, the Bulls met with Dunn in May at the draft combine.
“We prepared for pretty much everything, so we watched a lot of video of all the guys that were in this draft,” coach Fred Hoiberg said. “When we did watch Dunn, special talent, special kid. He’s a kid who gets it. I think he’s going to be special in this league when it’s all said and done.”
Dunn is averaging 4.4 points and 2.7 assists in 17.7 minutes. He has started five of 24 games.
Memory lane: Taj Gibson finished second in 2014 voting for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award under Thibodeau, whom he’ll see on Tuesday at the United Center.
“He helped me a lot on and off the court, being a man, being a player, being a professional,” Gibson said. “He’s just a tough-minded guy. He wanted perfection from his players and it showed in the way we played over the years.
“He loved to have his players go lay it on the line. Every practice, we played hard. Every game we played hard. Everybody knew what kind of team we were. We were a hard-nosed defensive kind of team and we were going to play hard to the last man on the bench. Everybody on our team got better from top to bottom. We were always together.”
Final flurry: Hoiberg spent part of practice addressing the lack of fourth-quarter offense.
“Our pace drops off. Our offensive rebounding numbers haven’t been as good. We’re still working on getting that exact package together that we need to have to be a successful fourth-quarter team,” Hoiberg said. “With all the new faces, it’s going to take a little time to get exactly where we need to be. We haven’t had a lot of time to get in the gym and practice.”