What were the Bulls thinking in Jimmy Butler trade?

Are the Bulls nuts? Practically everyone is ripping the deal sending Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves. You have a superstar player with several years left on his contract, and you don’t get a superstar or a haul of assets in return? Bulls fans have to be furious.

Meanwhile, Minnesota fans get the perfect addition to a young, talented team. Players like Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns need to learn how to play defense, and Butler is the perfect two-way player to help Tom Thibodeau create a defensive culture in Minnesota.

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Let’s talk T-Wolves!

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (L) celebrates a basket with teammate Nikola Pekovic (R) during the second half of the Timberwolves’ NBA basketball game against the Dallas Mavericks in the Target Center in Minneapolis, March 7, 2011. Love extended his double-double streak to 51 consecutive games, tying Moses Malone for the NBA’s longest streak of double-doubles since the NBA-ABA merger in 1976. Dallas won 108-105. REUTERS/Eric Miller (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

ESPN asked five Minnesota-related questions of its network of NBA bloggers and it’s once again time for me to piggy-back on the proceedings.

1. Fact or Fiction: Ricky Rubio will be a star.

Fiction: I think he can be a better than average NBA starter, but by all accounts he hasn’t developed over the last couple of seasons as was expected. His shooting percentage is pretty dreadful, so that inaccuracy will limit his upside. On a positive side, he has great court vision and is a pretty good defender. I don’t see stardom, but I do see starterdom.

2. Fact or Fiction: Rick Adelman should be the Wolves’ next coach.

Fact. He’s the best coach available and has had success just about everywhere he’s landed. He’s not going to turn this ship around quickly, but he’ll make the T-Wolves better.

3. Fact or Fiction: Derrick Williams should start.

Fact. Let’s see if he can play the 3. If it’s a disaster, then bring him off the bench in a 6th man role and let him build his confidence against the other team’s backups. It’s not like losing a few games early is going to tank the T-Wolves’ season. It’s already tanked.

4. Fact or Fiction: Michael Beasley has a bright future in Minnesota.

Fiction. It’s doubtful that he has a bright future anywhere. This is a guy who, at one of these glorified playground games, recently pushed a fan in the face because he couldn’t take the criticism. Maybe he’ll turn it around — you never know. He did post nice numbers on a bad team in 2010-11.

5. Fact or Fiction: Minny makes the playoffs while K-Love is still there.

Fiction. I’m not in Love’s head, but I wouldn’t re-sign with a team that is run by David Kahn. So unless the team fires Kahn and brings in a great basketball mind, Love will likely sign elsewhere even though the T-Wolves can (currently) offer the most money.

Ricky Rubio finally agrees to play for T-Wolves

Vlado Ilievski of Union Olimpija challenges Ricky Rubio (R) of Regal Barcelona during their men’s Euroleague basketball group B game in Ljubljana January 27, 2011. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic (SLOVENIA – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

It has been a long time coming, but Spanish guard Ricky Rubio has reportedly agreed to play for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011.

Apparently, the uncertainty of the NBA labor situation prompted Rubio to lock in his guaranteed salary under the current rookie wage scale instead of waiting to see what kind of concessions the owners were able to get from the players under a new CBA.

I’m sure that GM David Kahn feels some vindication, but he should wait until Rubio pans out as a good NBA point guard before he starts patting himself on the back. Let’s not forget that he passed on Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings to draft Rubio and Jonny Flynn.

Rubio’s prospects aren’t as bright as they were two years ago. He’s been dealing with a foot injury and has been coming off the bench for Regal Barcelona.

Kevin Love responded to the news with some disbelief, but then started thinking about running pick and rolls with Rubio.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the T-Wolves’ draft. They have the #2 overall pick and the top point guard in the draft, Kyrie Irving, may be available if the Cavs decide to take forward Derrick Williams of Arizona.

David Kahn is at it again

The Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA and the best chance to win the #1 overall pick, but ended up with the #2 pick when the Cavs leapfrogged from #8 to #1. GM David Kahn didn’t take the news gracefully. (Brian Mahoney, AP)

Wolves general manager David Kahn said he knew Minnesota was “dead” when it got down to the final three of himself, Utah executive Kevin O’Connor and Nick Gilbert.

“This league has a habit, and I am just going to say habit, of producing some pretty incredible story lines,” Kahn said. “Last year it was Abe Pollin’s widow and this year it was a 14-year-old boy and the only thing we have in common is we have both been bar mitzvahed. We were done. I told Kevin: ‘We’re toast.’ This is not happening for us and I was right.”

I bolded the interesting bit. Kahn went out of his way to point out that he was just saying “habit,” but by doing so it sure seemed he was implying that the lottery may have been fixed without going so far as actually saying it.

Then again, he might have been joking about the fact that he “knew” he was in trouble when there was a 14-year-old kid representing a team in the final three, but with his track record, he should know what to say and what not to say.

Did the Knicks give up too much to get Carmelo?

ESPN’s John Hollinger answers this question with an emphatic “yes.” In his trade grades column, he gave the Knicks a D+ in this deal.

The worst part, of course, is that this deal proves that no matter how many advantages New York gains from its magnetic appeal to potential free agents, owner James Dolan will screw them up. Leaning on the genius of Isiah Thomas — because it worked out so well for the first time — he fell hook, line and sinker for every bluff thrown his way by the Nuggets and Melo’s people. (Yes, Melo’s people participated — Anthony needed to make sure he got a lucrative contract extension under the current salary rules before being traded.)

New York still gets its Melo-Stoudemire nucleus, but now lacks the supporting pieces to do anything important with that core. And by extending Melo now, they agree to lock him up at such an expensive price that, in concert with Stoudemire’s deal, it likely precludes making a run at Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Dwight Howard in 2012.

The Knicks were bid up by the Nets, who never really had a chance at acquiring Carmelo in the first place. It would have been worth all of this to acquire a Top 5 player like LeBron James or Dwight Howard, but Carmelo is in the second or third tier of NBA stars and by acquiring and extending him now, they’re going to be paying a premium for his services for the next three or four years. His contract could make things especially tough if there’s a hard(er) cap.

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