WASHINGTON • After trade rumblings stirred the National Basketball Association (NBA) landscape all week, Thursday's draft brought one that shook the league.
Shortly after the Philadelphia 76ers formalised their selection of Markelle Fultz with the first pick and the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball with the second, the Chicago Bulls weighed in. They shipped their star guard Jimmy Butler and the 16th pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for two young players and the seventh choice.
The trade created a potential contender in Minnesota and confirmed that the Bulls are in rebuilding mode.
The Vertical's Adrian Wojnarowski also reported that the Boston Celtics, who took Duke's Jayson Tatum with the third pick, were working on a trade for Indiana Pacers forward Paul George.
In giving up Butler, who averaged a career-high 23.9 points last season, the Bulls acquired Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine and used the seventh pick on Lauri Markkanen.
In Minnesota, three-time All-Star Butler, 27, will reunite with coach Tom Thibodeau and join centre Karl-Anthony Towns, 21, to create one of the best duos in the league.
The move overshadowed the NBA Draft in Brooklyn where, as expected, two point guards were the first players selected.
Fultz, 19, fits in nicely with Philadelphia's rebuilding programme. He averaged 23.2 points, 5.9 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.6 steals over 25 games last season for the University of Washington Huskies.
He joins a young squad featuring forward Ben Simmons, another top draft pick; Jahlil Okafor and 2017 NBA Rookie of the Year finalists Joel Embiid and Dario Saric. That young core of talent is expected to provide a base to rebuild the 76ers, who were 28-54 last season.
"I'm very excited, just like the fans in Philly, how they back up their players," Fultz said.
The 19-year-old Ball averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.8 steals a game for the UCLA Bruins last season.
He is heralded for his brilliant passing and ability to push the pace and run the fast break.
"I'm looking to go in there and just learn from day one," he said of furthering his hoops education under Lakers head of basketball operations and legendary point guard, Magic Johnson.
WASHINGTON POST, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS