CLEVELAND -- What a difference a day makes for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Fresh off of a stinging 4-1 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers’ on-court leaders, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, were doing a bit of recruiting, but those efforts have reportedly hit a roadblock.
After Monday’s story from Chicago Sun-Times reporter Joe Cowley said James and Irving had been reaching out to Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler to gauge his interest in joining the Cavaliers, those efforts have reversed course.
Less than two weeks away from the expiration of his contract, general manager David Griffin and the Cavaliers parted ways, meaning the very man who was the architect of the organization’s first-ever NBA Championship was allowed to walk in free agency, so to speak.
After the dismissal of the man who made dozens of trades and negotiated contract extensions for all of the key pieces to the Cavaliers’ championship run, players in the locker room are now warning Butler, a three-time All-Star, to stay away.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, current Cavaliers who were once urging Butler to push for a trade to Cleveland are now telling him to avoid the organization because of “a suddenly volatile situation.”
However, veteran Cavaliers beat reporter Sam Amico cited a source that disputed the Chicago Sun-Times story, saying there is “zero truth” to the claims.
Butler is currently under contract for the next two years, and he holds a player option for the 2019-2020 season.
Over his first six years with the Bulls, Butler 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 2015-2016 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 outings.
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.