The Cleveland Cavaliers are trying to engage the Chicago Bulls in multi-team trade scenarios which would enable the Eastern Conference champions to acquire Bulls star Jimmy Butler, according to league sources.
Sources told ESPN that the Cavaliers, in addition to their reported interest in Indiana’s Paul George, are trying to assemble trade packages that would convince the Bulls to part with Butler, who is fresh off the best season of his career.
It’s believed that the Cavaliers, by offering All-Star forward Kevin Love, would try to recruit a third team that could supply the sort of young player and top draft picks sure to be more appealing to Chicago than the limited trade assets on Cleveland’s veteran-laden roster.
The Boston Celtics also have a longstanding interest in Butler and potentially possess seven first-round picks in the next three drafts to pitch to the Bulls after Boston’s trade with Philadelphia on Monday that swapped the No. 1 and 3 overall picks in Thursday night’s draft.
Butler, if he stays in Chicago, would be eligible for a so-called “super max” contract extension exceeding $200 million in the summer of 2018 if he earns an All-NBA berth next season as he did this season. But sources say that the Bulls, as expected, are getting trade calls on Butler and could be moved to try to schedule meetings this week with top-tier draft prospects such as Duke’s Jayson Tatum and Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox if talks get serious.
ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported Sunday night that when it comes to Indiana’s George, Cleveland is willing to enter into trade talks without any assurances George will commit to a long-term deal. The Cavaliers are confident, McMenamin reports, their championship culture could convince George to want to stay beyond the 2017-18 season despite George’s well-chronicled desire to land with the Los Angeles Lakers as a 2018 free agent.
The contract of Cavaliers general manager David Griffin expires June 30 — with no apparent progress in contract negotiations with Cavs owner Dan Gilbert — but sources say Griffin has been active in recent days in pursuit of the likes of Butler and George in the wake of Cleveland’s 4-1 NBA Finals defeat to the Golden State Warriors.