MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Timberwolves made a historic move on NBA Draft night in an effort to end a 13-year absence from the playoffs.
The Timberwolves traded Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and their No. 7 pick to acquire Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler. Minnesota also got Chicago’s No. 16 overall pick in the trade, where they took Creighton center Justin Patton.
The move was so big that the Timberwolves wanted the public to get its first look at Butler on Thursday, introducing him at the Mall of America rotunda. Hundreds of fans filled the rotunda to get a glimpse at who they hope is a Timberwolves star for the next several years. It was complete with a DJ, the Timberwolves hype man and even started by Butler giving out his cell phone number to his critics or anyone who might have issues with him.
“My face is already on the side of buildings everywhere. Y’all are my people,” Butler said. “My expectations are to win. I’m just here to work.”
Butler, 27, is a three-time All-Star and was an All-NBA Third Team selection last year. He’s been selected to three All-Defensive teams and was also on the 2016 Olympic team that won the gold medal. He’s one of the best two-way players in the NBA.
Butler averaged nearly 24 points per game last season, and is one of the better defensive players in the league. He’s now reunited with his former Bulls coach in Tom Thibodeau. He’ll be the leader of a potent trio with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
“Obviously this is a big day for us, a great addition to our team. Being able to get a player like this doesn’t come around very often,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a great fit for us, but it’s a great fit for Jimmy as well.”
“Thibs has molded me into the player I am today. I got Thibs’ back, he has mine and we’re in this thing together,” Butler said.
Butler said he found out from his agent while he was in France that he was being traded to Minnesota. He said he was excited, since it meant he was reuniting with Thibodeau.
NBA free agency starts July 1, and Butler said Wednesday he plans to be active in recruiting players to come to Minnesota.
“I’ll be talking to a lot of really good players, many that are much better than myself,” Butler said.
Butler wasn’t shy about what his goals are with the Timberwolves. He said he wants to contend for the NBA championship.
“You play to win championships, that’s why we play. We play to win games.”
Butler will wear No. 23 for the Timberwolves.