Jimmy Butler never had the greatest relationship with Bulls upper management. But his presence on the team and the lasting impression he left on the organization was felt on Sunday.
According to Chicago Tribune's K.C. Johnson, Butler treated a group of current Bulls staffers to a three-hour dinner at Katana, a new sushi restaurant in River North.
Butler, who was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves on draft night, was in town to attend Dwyane Wade's youth basketball camp in New Lenox over the weekend.
According to Johnson, Butler wanted to say "goodbye and thank you" to the staff, which included "behind-the-scenes staffers like salespeople and media relations officials and digital production staffers."
The Bulls and Nikola Mirotic ended their summerlong impasse by agreeing to a two-year, $27 million deal on the eve of training camp, sources tell CSNChicago.com.
Mirotic was a restricted free agent and was at risk of not being at Media Day Monday had he and the Bulls not come to an agreement, but the sides came away with a deal both will probably say is advantageous. Mirotic has a no-trade clause in the first year of the deal and the second season is a team option according to sources, preserving the big cap space the Bulls have when Dwyane Wade's $23.8 million contract comes off the books.
Mirotic and his representatives were looking for an offer sheet in the $16-17 million range when free agency first began, hoping the Bulls would match on what was expected to be a boom market.
But the boom went bust very quickly and free agent money dried up, leaving Mirotic with a $7.2 million qualifying offer the Bulls seemingly weren't budging from. But the Bulls reversed course, apparently relenting on the qualifying offer to sweeten the deal, which also helps the Bulls get to the salary floor for the coming season.
Mirotic's tenure with the Bulls has been tantalizingly frustrating after a promising finish to his rookie season in 2014-15. Unable to put together consistent stretches under Fred Hoiberg, there was question as to if Mirotic fit in the short-term plans, let alone the big picture as the Bulls are gearing up for a long rebuild.
But letting the 6-foot-10 Mirotic go was a little too much for the front office to stomach, as they appear to hold onto the slightest bit of hope Mirotic can develop into a versatile scorer without having the burden of big pressure around him. Unfortunate circumstances and injuries have played a part in Mirotic's inconsistencies, as he's played considerably better after the All-Star break in his three seasons.
If not, they can cut bait with Mirotic after the season and start over, yet again.
For all the Bulls fans who wanted to see the organization pull off a Carmelo Anthony trade over the years, they just got their wish.
Well, sort of.
According to The Vertical's Shams Charania, the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks have agreed to a blockbuster trade which will send Anthony to the Thunder for Doug McDermott, Enes Kanter and the Bulls' 2018 second-round pick.
Coincidentally, the Bulls traded a comparable package to what the Thunder just surrendered for the 10-time NBA All-Star.
Just before the NBA's trade deadline last February, the Bulls sent McDermott, Taj Gibson and a 2018 second-round draft choice to the Thunder for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow.
As the Thunder load up for a postseason run in the Western Conference, the Bulls are in the midst of rebuilding year after trading Jimmy Butler earlier this offseason and not having much to show from their previous trade with the Thunder.
The Bulls let Lauvergne and Morrow depart via free agency this offseason, while Payne will start the season on the shelf after undergoing foot surgery.
After the deal becomes official via a league call on Monday, Anthony will join reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and All-Star Paul George in Oklahoma City.
The 33-year-old Anthony averaged 22.4 points and 5.9 rebounds for the Knicks last season.