Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night deal

Bulls trade Butler to Timberwolves in blockbuster draft-night deal

MINNEAPOLIS -- Ever since Tom Thibodeau took over in Minnesota last summer, a reunion with Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler seemed destined to happen.

For the coach that desperately wanted a defensive-minded veteran to set the tone for a talented young roster, and for the player who only truly realized what he had in that hard-driving leader after he was gone.

"It's been something that over a prolonged period of time there have been different moments where he's had to consider it and think about it," Butler's agent, Bernie Lee, told The Associated Press. "In some ways it feels like it was spoken into reality."

In the blockbuster move of draft night, the Bulls traded Butler and the 16th overall pick Thursday night to the Timberwolves for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick as the Wolves try to finally put an end to a 13-year playoff drought.

The trade brings together Butler and Wolves coach and president Thibodeau, who coached the Bulls for five seasons before being fired in 2015. Thibodeau helped Butler become an All-NBA performer and earn a $95 million contract and Butler helped Thibodeau instill the brass-knuckle mentality into those Bulls teams.

"The longer you are with somebody, the more deposits you have with each other, the trust is there," Thibodeau said. "You're not afraid to tell them the truth. So I think I know him well. I know the things that are important to him. I know he wants to win. And he wants to win big."

Now they're together again, trying to lead a franchise that has not made the playoffs since 2004.

"It's one of those moments where the excitement of tonight has to carry forward to the work that has to come," Lee said. "And if it does, it will really be a beautiful thing to see."

The Wolves paid a big price: Besides surrendering the lottery pick, they gave up a rising star in LaVine, who is coming off of a torn ACL and Dunn, last year's No. 5 overall pick. They were among the youngest teams in the league last season, cast as a team that could be a force once all of their pups grew up.

After a disappointing first season overseeing the operation, Thibodeau grabbed a fully grown pit bull to toughen the team up.

Butler played for Thibodeau for four seasons in Chicago, developing from an unheralded, late-first round draft pick into a perennial All-Star. The two strong-willed workaholics clashed on occasion during their time together and Butler said during the Olympics in Rio last summer that it was "love-hate" relationship.

But he also acknowledged that his appreciation for Thibodeau's hard-driving style increased as time went on, especially when the Bulls struggled in their first season under the more player-friendly Fred Hoiberg.

"They've come by their relationship honestly," Lee said. "They worked through a period to where they really came to learn what the other is about. ... They have a basis to work from, but things have changed and they've changed and adapted. They will take the starting point that they have, but they have to build on it."

The Wolves drafted Arizona sharpshooter Lauri Markkanen for the Bulls at No. 7 and the Bulls took Creighton forward Justin Patton at No. 16 for the Wolves. Patton is a 6-foot-11 forward who was the Big East freshman of the year after averaging 12.9 points and 6.1 rebounds last season.

When Thibodeau was hired as team president and coach last summer, he quickly set his sights on bringing Butler to Minnesota. The two sides engaged on serious discussions on draft night last year, but couldn't close it.

LaVine was having a breakout third season in the league when he tore the ACL in his left knee in February. His rehabilitation has gone well, but the injury certainly complicated the Wolves' re-engaging Chicago on Butler. Adding to the difficulty was Dunn's underwhelming first year in Minnesota, which diminished his trade value.

With all that in play, the Wolves were forced to also offer up the No. 7 pick this season to push the deal over the top. But they did receive Chicago's first-round pick in return. The move, and the package they assembled to make it, signal an organization that is desperate to start winning.

Butler averaged career highs in points (23.9), rebounds (6.2) and assists (5.5) in his sixth season. He is also one of the league's top defenders, an absolute necessity for a young team that finished 26th in the league in defensive efficiency last season. He will turn 28 in September, right in the middle of his prime for a team in need of veteran leadership.

"The most important thing to me are the things he does every day, the way he practices, the things that he does in meetings, the way he prepares before a game, the things that he does for recovery," Thibodeau said. "He'll show our players a lot of the things that he's learned along the way."

The move also represents the first significant steps toward an overhaul for the Bulls. Despite a spirited effort, the Bulls were eliminated by the Boston Celtics in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Wade opted in for the final year of his contract, but that isn't stopping Chicago from pivoting to a new, younger nucleus that includes LaVine, Dunn, Markkanen and Denzel Valentine.

Now that Butler is gone, the 35-year-old Wade could become a buyout candidate as the Bulls go into rebuilding mode.

Perez's eighth-inning slam, after three walks, lifts Royals over Red Sox, 6-4

Perez's eighth-inning slam, after three walks, lifts Royals over Red Sox, 6-4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Salvador Perez borrowed a Miguel Cabrera bat from Kansas City Royals teammate Drew Butera for the first time Wednesday.

"It's a magic stick," Butera said.

It was magic for Perez, who hit his first career grand slam, connecting in the eighth inning to rally the Royals over the Boston Red Sox 6-4.

"Miggy gave the bat to Butera when Detroit was playing here," Perez said. "Drew doesn't use it. It's too heavy for him. Today, coming into the clubhouse, I put it in my locker. I like the bat.

"Today was the first day I used it and I'll use it Friday, too, before you ask me. I don't want to break that one. I've got to call Miggy and say, `You've got to send me some more bats.'"

The Royals have won nine of 11 and moved within a game of .500.

Perez homered over the Kansas City bullpen in left field on the ninth pitch from Robby Scott (0-1). With Boston leading 4-2, reliever Matt Barnes started the inning by walking Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain on 12 pitches.

"We uncharacteristically lost the strike zone," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "For a group that has been so good at not issuing too many walks over the course of the year, we had an inning that got away from us. Matt was up in the zone. He couldn't get the ball down.

"This one stings because that group has been so good, so consistent for the better part of the whole season."

Scott was summoned to face Eric Hosmer, but walked him on four pitches to load the bases for Perez. The All-Star catcher fouled off three full-count deliveries before hitting his 15th home run of the season.

"I was happy with where the pitch was, but it was too good," Scott said. "There's not much else to say about it."

According to ESPN Stats and Information, Perez was the first Kansas City player to hit a grand slam in the eighth inning or later with the Royals trailing since Frank White in 1986. Perez went 3 for 3 in the win.

Jorge Soria (3-2) worked a spotless eighth. Kelvin Herrera pitched the ninth for his 17th save in 19 chances.

Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts hit successive home runs in the Boston fourth off Ian Kennedy.

Benintendi's drive was estimated at 454 feet and landed in the right-center waterfall. The leadoff homer was Boston's first hit, and the 100th of Benintendi's career.

Five pitches later, Bogaerts went deep to left, tying the score at 2. It was the fourth time this season the Red Sox have hit back-to-back home runs.

"I tried to go inside and the ball just ran back over," Kennedy said of the homers.

Red Sox lefty Drew Pomeranz worked 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and six hits.

Kennedy was removed after 4 2/3 innings, giving up four runs, two earned, three hits and three walks. He has just one victory in his past 17 starts.

Errors by Kennedy and first baseman Cheslor Cuthbert helped Boston score twice in the fifth.

ORTIZ'S CEREMONY

The Red Sox will retire David Ortiz's No. 34 in a pregame ceremony Friday at Fenway Park. "When you consider the careers that are on that facade, the numbers that are up there and the fact that his being done so soon after retiring, I think speaks volumes," Farrell said. "What he's meant to the city, what he's meant to the organization. To see him at the ballpark, see the smile, to hear the booming voice, it will be a good day for us."

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia missed his third straight game with rib soreness after being hit by a pitch Sunday. "When he went down to swing in the cage, there's still some restriction," Farrell said. "Hopefully he'll be back in the lineup Friday." ... LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee subluxation) will throw a 30-pitch two-inning simulated game Saturday.

Royals: RHP Nathan Karns (forearm strain) threw off a flat surface, his first time tossing since having a setback 11 days ago. ... LHP Danny Duffy (oblique strain) will throw a bullpen session Friday and could begin a minor league rehab stint next week.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: After a day off Thursday, RHP Rick Porcello will start Friday against the Angels.

Royals: RHP Jakob Junis will start Friday against the Blue Jays.

Red Sox move into first place with 8-3 romp over Royals

Red Sox move into first place with 8-3 romp over Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Chris Sale had just shut down one of the hottest teams in baseball, helping the banged-up Boston Red Sox take over sole possession of first place in the AL East for the first time all season.

And he looked as if he wanted to punch a wall.

Sale was two outs shy of his second consecutive complete game when Boston manager John Farrell trundled to the mound Tuesday night. But the left-hander's pitch count had already reached 110 on the way to an 8-3 victory over the Kansas City Royals, so Farrell's decision to summon a reliever was relatively easy.

If a bit hard to swallow for his competitive ace.

"A little frustrating," Sale said, "but at the end of the day we got the win. We're good."

Sale (9-3) gave up a homer to Mike Moustakas in the second inning and a two-run shot to Jorge Bonifacio in the ninth before leaving the game. The five-time All-Star allowed two other hits and a walk while pushing his major league-leading strikeout total to 146.

More importantly, he got a win after going the distance in a 1-0 loss to Philadelphia last week.

"We scored a bunch of runs today. That takes a lot of pressure off a pitcher," Sale said. "You can make mistakes and not have to worry about it. You can just pound the strike zone."

Xander Bogaerts and Sandy Leon each drove in a pair of runs for Boston, which got plenty of production from a lineup missing Pablo Sandoval, Dustin Pedroia and Mitch Moreland to various injuries.

First baseman Sam Travis and third baseman Deven Marrero, recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket earlier in the day, drove in early runs to get the Red Sox off and running. Mookie Betts and Chris Young also had RBIs as the new division leaders kept piling on.

Boston jumped a half-game ahead of the rival New York Yankees, who have lost seven in a row for their longest slide in a single season since April 2007.

"It's good to see the way guys have responded when guys have been down," Farrell said. "To do it on the road, to continue to win, that's a sign this team is becoming special."

Most of Boston's damage came against Royals youngster Matt Strahm (2-4), who struggled to follow up his dazzling first career start. The left-hander with a delivery eerily similar to Sale's was hammered for five runs on seven hits and a walk before exiting with nobody out in the fourth.

Strahm allowed one unearned run in five innings last week against the Angels.

"Just mistakes. I've just got to do better with more quality pitches," he said. "Just making quality two-strike pitches was my nemesis today."

Sale dominated a Royals lineup that had slugged its way to eight wins in nine games, striking out the side in the fifth for good measure. The long, lean lefty was finally lifted after Bonifacio's homer and a base hit by Brandon Moss.

The dominant performance came after Sale twirled a complete game in his last start at Kansas City, allowing two earned runs while striking out 10 in a 7-4 victory last Sept. 16 for the White Sox.

"He locates all his pitches, throws hard and has great stuff," Moustakas said. "You just try to put the ball in play, try not to get to two strikes. I was able to do that in that first at-bat."

PAINFUL PANDA

Sandoval went on the disabled list before the game with an inner ear infection. The pain began for the Red Sox third baseman a few days ago, but Farrell said Sandoval's temperature kept climbing. The DL stint also gives Sandoval a mental break after a rough start to the season.

ROSTER MOVES

Along with putting Sandoval on the DL, the Red Sox optioned RHP Austin Maddox to Triple-A Pawtucket.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: Pedroia (ribs) still felt discomfort while swinging in the cage before the game, though Farrell said it's possible the second baseman could play Wednesday. ... LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) went through fielding practice before the game. He plans to throw to hitters on Saturday.

Royals: LHP Danny Duffy (right oblique) threw about 40 pitches off the mound to hitters before the game and reported no problems. He plans to throw a side session Friday and could begin a rehab assignment next week. "Felt great, looked great," manager Ned Yost said.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Drew Pomeranz tries to build on a solid start at Houston in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. Pomeranz allowed one run while pitching into the seventh inning against the Astros.

Royals: RHP Ian Kennedy will be coming off his first win since Sept. 11 when he starts for Kansas City. Kennedy retired the first 17 hitters he faced in a 3-1 victory over the Angels.