Butler feels degree of loyalty to Bulls, ‘loves it’ in Chicago

The Bulls may want to explore moving Jimmy Butler this offseason.

Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show this past Thursday, and while his name is consistently mentioned in a bevy of trade rumors, Butler says he still loves it in Chicago.

“They took a chance on me in 2011 with the 30th pick,” Butler said. “I’m forever grateful for that. I love it there.”

Despite all the reported dysfunction going on with the Bulls, it appears Jimmy Butler doesn’t want to be traded. ESPN reported in February that Butler feels a degree of loyalty to the Bulls and has unfinished business to take care of in The Windy City.

Butler has been the subject of trade rumors ever since Bulls general manager Gar Forman and vice president John Paxson began to have doubts that he could be the franchise player and lead Chicago to a championship. Butler’s rocky accord with Forman had many speculating that the versatile swingman was going to be moved during this year’s trade deadline.

It’s widely known through league circles that the Celtics have been trying to acquire Butler for some time now. Chicago and Boston have gone back and forth for months on different trade packages, but neither team has yet to pull the trigger on a potential deal.

Boston owns the number one overall pick in this year’s draft and it’s highly doubtful they’ll give that up for Butler, who will be 28 next season. All signs point to the Celtics drafting point guard Markelle Fultz and pairing him with Isaiah Thomas.

Butler publicly ripping Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg last season in the media, coupled with some of the comments he has made behind the scenes about teammates and assistant coaches, has rubbed some of the higher-ups in the Bulls organization the wrong way. It’s the main reason why Chicago’s brass has never fully committed to Butler being the guy they want to build around.

On the court, Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league. He averaged 23.9 points, 5.5 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game this year while shooting 45.5 percent from the field.

Butler, however, continues to struggle manufacturing points when he isn’t getting to the free throw line. In Games 3 and 5 of the Bulls’ first-round playoff series against the Celtics, Butler scored 14 points in each contest, mainly because he only shot one free throw combined in both games.

The Rajon RondoDwyane Wade-Jimmy Butler experiment had its ups and downs, but ultimately, this is not a group that will challenge the Cavs in the Eastern Conference.

Unfortunately for Bulls fans, their team is being run by people who think otherwise.

At his end of the season presser, John Paxson said the team expects Rondo and Wade to be back, which signals that Butler will return as well.

Looks like it’s going to be another year where the Bulls will be stuck in the worst place in sports to be – the middle.

Ashish Mathur is an NBA writer at AmicoHoops. Follow him on Twitter – amathurNBA.