Jimmy Butler is rumored to be on the move this offseason, possibly within the next week or so. The Chicago Bulls have been in trade talks with multiple teams about acquiring him. If multiple teams have interest in Butler, why am I only asking if the Cavs should trade for him? The answer is, because the Cavs are focused on one thing…… another championship. After being beaten by the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals 4-1, LeBron James is determined to make it back. When he does (yes when, not if), there’s a good chance he could be facing the Warriors again.
It was obvious during the Finals that the Cavs roster needed an upgrade. The Warriors walked all over them because of their terrible defense. It was too tough for the Cavs to guard Durant, Curry, Green, and Thompson. I’d even throw Livingston and Iguodala in there. It was just too much. Anytime you see the Cavs lose the way they did, you know changes are coming.
One big change they’ve already made, was firing GM David Griffin. I don’t quite understand that move, but that’s a conversation for another time. We heard the Cavs could be trying to trade for Paul George, but that has died down because of his high level of interest in going to L.A. next year. If we see another major change for the Cavs, there’s a good chance it could be the acquisition of Jimmy Butler. Hearing these trade rumors has me wondering. Would Jimmy Butler make the Cavs better? Would it put them above the Warriors?
Acquiring Butler would likely mean giving up Kevin Love. Let’s compare the two.
Jimmy Butler: 23.9 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 47% FG’s, 33.7% 3pt, and 1.9 steals.
Kevin Love: 19.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 42.7% FG’s, 37.3% 3pt, and 0.9 steals.
Where would the Cavs be better?
Jimmy Butler would give the Cavs more scoring. He averaged 4.9 more points per game than Love last season. His scoring may take a slight dip with LeBron and Kyrie on the team, but I think he’d have similar numbers. His overall shooting percentage is 4.3% higher than Love’s also. Better scoring is something the Cavs need if they’re going to catch the Warriors. Butler also makes them a better passing team, which would create better shots.
Butler is a better defender than Love. He’s been a member of the 2nd All-Defensive team three times. Kevin Love hasn’t been on any All-Defensive teams. One of the reasons why the Cavs lost the Finals, is because they allowed the Warriors to score way too many points. They couldn’t keep up. Butler would give them a defender who could take care of at least one player. His 1.0 steal more per game tells me that he’s better at being around the ball on defense. He would create more turnovers for the other team, giving the Cavs more scoring opportunities.
Where would the Cavs be worse?
Kevin Love averaged 4.9 more rebounds than Butler. Rebounding didn’t really matter to the Cavs in the Finals. The Warriors made pretty much everything in every game, except game 4. The Cavs would still have LeBron, who is always reliable on the boards, as well as Tristan Thompson. Although they’d be worse at rebounding, I don’t think it would significantly hurt the Cavs. Rebounding does create more possessions, but you have to make the opponent miss before you can get a rebound. That’s something the Cavs didn’t do during the Finals, as shown by Kevin Durant’s several uncontested dunks.
Butler isn’t a great 3pt shooter. He only shot 33.7% last year, which is 3.6% worse than what Love shot from 3pt range. In the Finals, the team that won the 3pt battle, ended up winning the game. The Cavs only shot better in game 4, which was their only win. The Warriors have too many 3pt shooting options. Getting worse in this area might make things easier for the Warriors. Would Butler’s defense cancel that out? Maybe, maybe not.
Should they make the trade?
Butler has made it clear to the Bulls that he wants to remain with the team long term. If he goes to the Cavs, I think it would take a championship to keep him there. Butler said he’s not sure if he could commit to the Cavs. His interest in being with the Bulls long term doesn’t necessarily mean the Cavs won’t trade for him anyway. It’s still a real possibility.
There are both negatives and positives to this trade. The Cavs would be better at scoring, defense, and passing. At the same time, they’d be worse at rebounding and 3pt shooting. What would they rather have? That remains to be seen. I’m not 100% convinced the Cavs should make a trade for Butler. Would he make them better overall? I think so. Would he put them above the Warriors? No. He’d only be a piece to the puzzle, and not the piece to complete it.