LA, November 8: Former Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler says the team had to choose between keeping him or Fred Hoiberg, and they opted for the coach.
Minnesota Timberwolves guard Butler returns to Chicago to face his old team on February 9, 2018.
Butler played his first six seasons in Chicago, emerging as one of the NBA's brightest young stars over the past couple of years before he was traded to the Timberwolves in June.
The 28-year-old told ESPN that the Bulls faced a decision on whether to keep him or coach Hoiberg.
"I said from the beginning that it was either going to be me or the Fred Hoiberg route," Butler said (via the Chicago Tribune). "And, rightfully so, they took Fred. Good for them. I have that game marked on my calendar. February 9, baby, I'm back."
Butler went to the Timberwolves along with the number 16 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the number seven overall pick.
Hoiberg disagreed with Butler's either-or scenario when asked about it before the team's game against the Toronto Raptors.
"I don't think it had anything to do with one person or another," Hoiberg said. "This was the direction chosen. We've got some really good young pieces.
"We miss Jimmy. He is an unbelievable player and has had a great impact on winning for Minnesota. And he will continue to do that. We always wish him the best."
Butler is averaging 15.1 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for the Timberwolves, who are off to a 7-3 start.