If there is a moment in time where it’s easy to pinpoint the Chicago Bulls falling off the cliff? That was when they decided to trade Jimmy Butler. Here’s a guy they drafted and developed into a legitimate star. He can and should’ve been their centerpiece around which they continued to build the roster moving forward. Instead, the front office woefully mistreated him and rather than try to make things work, just washed their hands of the entire thing by trading him to Minnesota.

It was a dark day for Bulls basketball. Butler was on record saying he never wanted to leave. He would’ve had every right to feel bitter. Especially after finding out about the trade while on vacation in Paris. While he had no love for GM Gar Forman and VP John Paxson, he didn’t let that animosity spread to others in the organization. People he felt played a huge role in his rise to excellence.

Two months after being dealt, he returned to Chicago on some charity business. That’s when he found a great way to say thank you according to K.C. Johnson.

“Throughout a year of trade rumors, Jimmy Butler remained consistent: He wanted to remain a Chicago Bull.

That’s why his Sunday night gesture shouldn’t surprise.

Butler, traded to the Timberwolves in June and in town for Dwyane Wade’s youth basketball camp, took a large contingent from the Bulls’ business operations staff out to dinner.

Butler treated behind-the-scenes staffers like salespeople and media relations officials and digital production staffers at Katana, the chic new River North sushi restaurant.

Butler wanted to “say goodbye and thank you,” according to someone familiar with his plans.

Roughly 35 staffers attended the three-hour dinner.”

Jimmy Butler era will be remembered for missed opportunities

Another reminder that the Bulls could’ve and should’ve made him the face of their franchise. They had a chance to field a regular contender in the East alongside Derrick Rose. Yet management seemed unable to keep the two stars on the same page. What makes it even worse though is they could’ve had a foundation in place for Butler after Rose was traded had they drafted better during his peak years.

Doug McDermott in 2014 was the first domino. They had Jusuf Nurkic in their grasp but traded his rights to Denver. In 2015 they took Bobby Portis with Montrezl Harrell and Josh Richardson still available. Then in 2016 going with Denzel Valentine over Pascal Siakam or Malcolm Brogdon. The Bulls had their chances to construct a roster that would’ve served Butler well.

Sadly they traded away a “headache” instead. This is why the team sits in the NBA basement today.