What was behind the Butler trade, and what each team does now – ESPN

Pivotal offseasons sneak up on exciting young teams — especially with the salary cap expected to flatten after an unprecedented two-year bubble that warped the league.

The young pup Wolves were about to become expensive. Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins become eligible for extensions on July 1, and Wiggins will demand — and almost surely receive — a max deal. Karl-Anthony Towns, one of the great young players in recent NBA history, comes calling for his payday in a year.

This was Minnesota’s last summer to really play around with its core, on its terms. The Wolves aimed big, flipping LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick to the aimless Bulls for Jimmy Butler — a top-10 player in the league last season, smack in the middle of his absolute prime — and a draft pick.

Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball went No. 1 and No. 2 on a wild NBA draft night in Brooklyn.

Draft recap: All 60 picks | Social buzz
• Sixers take Markelle Fultz No. 1
• Lonzo Ball heads to Lakers at No. 2
• Jimmy Butler to Wolves | GradesInsider
• Trade tracker: Draft night deals
• Ford’s winners and losersInsider
• Embiid, Simmons take shots at Ball family

There isn’t much risk here for Minnesota, beyond Butler’s free agency in 2019 and the obvious fit issues Tom Thibodeau will have to sort out. On his next contract, LaVine will make about as much as Butler, and will never be as good. And that’s coming from a relative LaVine optimist. The dude is a once-in-a-decade athlete who canned 39 percent of triples on a difficult shot profile. He can rise up at the end of the shot clock and generate a makeable jumper from nothing.

A year miscast as a clueless, helpless point guard at least gave LaVine enough ballhandling reps to work a decent secondary pick-and-roll. He is absolutely worth Chicago’s time.

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