CLEVELAND -- The NBA offseason may be underway, but the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star players, small forward LeBron James and point guard Kyrie Irving, are doing what they can to improve the team and bolster the roster with proven veteran talents.
Fresh off of a stinging 4-1 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers’ on-court leaders are doing a bit of recruiting. According to Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley, James and Irving have reached out to Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler to gauge his interest in joining the Cavaliers.
After losing to the Warriors, who reloaded with small forward Kevin Durant in free agency last offseason without losing a core player following a Finals loss to the Cavaliers, Cleveland is looking at making moves to counter the Durant signing and enhance their chances of making a fourth straight trip to The Finals.
Unlike Durant, however, acquiring the 6-foot-7, 231-pound Butler would require a trade between the Cavaliers, Bulls and likely, a third team to get Chicago young assets or draft picks, neither of which Cleveland has enough of because of previous trades.
Butler is currently under contract for the next two years, but he holds a player option for the 2019-2020 season.
Over six years with the Bulls, Butler has averaged 15.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.9 steals in 399 regular-season games. His points-per-game average has gone up every year of his career, and increased from 20.9 to 23.9 from the 2015-2016 season to 2016-2017.
In 38 games over five trips to the postseason, Butler has averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals in 39.8 minutes of play. Butler has averaged better than 22.5 points per game over his last 18 postseason games.
During the 2016-2017 season, one in which the Bulls fought their way to the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, Butler set multiple career highs.
Butler averaged 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, including 4.5 defensive caroms, 5.5 assists and 1.9 steals, which shooting .455 from the field, .367 from three-point range and .865 at the free-throw line over 37.0 minutes in 76 games, 75 of which were starts.
Butler’s points, rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists and free-throw percentage were single-season career bests, and the 1.9 steals per game equaled his previous best from the 2013-2014 season.
Butler was a first-round pick of the Bulls, No. 30 overall, in the 2011 NBA Draft out of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.