Jimmy Butler Cleveland-bound picked up even more momentum on Tuesday.
According to multiple sources out of Cleveland, not only have Cavaliers players – including LeBron James and Kyrie Irving – been reaching out to Butler directly and through back channels over the last five days to gauge his interest, but liked what they heard back from the Bulls three-time All-Star.
One of the sources indicated that Butler would even push his front office to get the deal done, which is a huge change of direction for Butler, who has told both general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson numerous times over the last year that he didn’t want to be traded.
Then again, that was before the Eastern Conference powerhouse Cavaliers became a possible destination.
As reported on Monday, a third team would have to be brought in to make the deal happen because the Cavaliers don’t have the right assets to trade directly with the Bulls.
Phoenix was mentioned in one report, but the Los Angeles Lakers could also come into play. The Lakers have high draft picks, young players, and motivation to add a Kevin Love so that it makes the possible courting of free agent-to-be Paul George an even easier sell.
Meanwhile, while the asking price for Butler has been astronomical since last June, there’s now some extra motivation for Gar/Pax to also get it done.
Sources close to the situation indicated that in his meeting with the Bulls front office last week, veteran Dwyane Wade told them he would not stick around for a rebuild. In other words, if Butler was to be moved, Wade would likely opt out of the $23.8 million player option he has sitting on the table and leave his hometown team after just one season.
That would open up a world of financial flexibility for the Bulls, who can still build with their young core, but also add proven free agents to stay competitive.
The Butler drama doesn’t end there, however.
If Gar/Pax fail to get a Butler-to-Cleveland deal done that doesn’t mean life gets any easier for the two.
A Bulls source indicated that the message coming out of the meetings with both Butler and Wade was the “Three Alphas’’ storyline is played out.
While Butler and Wade personally have no problem with Rajon Rondo, they would like a proven outside threat at that point guard position to open up the floor.
The Sun-Times reported last week that Butler has been in the ear of free agent point guard Kyle Lowry about coming to Chicago since the two played on Team USA last summer, and now there’s a new name in the mix.
All-Star Kyrie Irving has been contacting some of his former Team USA teammates and letting them know that he might be willing to push for a trade, especially if he feels the Cavs’ run could end quickly with James able to opt out after next season.
Through back channels, Chicago would be one of the places that Irving would be interested to play.
Obviously the asking price for Irving would be too rich for what the Bulls have, and a third team would also have to be brought into that mix.
“Jimmy wants to win, period,’’ a source said. “Whatever it takes to get that done.’’
Butler was currently vacationing in Europe and could not be reached for comment, while the Bulls front office doesn’t “comment on rumors.’’