After months of speculation that Jimmy Butler was unhappy in Minnesota, he finally requested a trade earlier today. Shams Charania reported that following meetings with Wolves officials and head coaches, Butler had requested a trade, with a list of 1-3 teams who he’d prefer to join. That led to even more speculation about where Jimmy would be traded to. That is until Woj reported that Butler would prefer to be traded to either the Nets, Knicks or Clippers- who combined for less than 100 wins last year. It is important to know that these three teams will likely have the most cap space this summer, so this is for sure a basketball decision, and definitely not motivated by money.
However, seeing that last year Kyrie, and this year Kawhi, weren’t traded to a team on their “lists,” that might not even matter. But, let’s do what anyone else does in a time like this and fire up the trade machine.
*Note*- I’m valuing Jimmy Butler at about the same value Paul George had last year. Although the Oladipo and Sabonis package wound up being a great haul for Indiana, at the time it looked a little bleak. So expect the trade packages to be slightly better than that one was.
After years of suffering due to the trade that got the Nets washed up versions of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry, the Nets have quietly built a decent future. This summer they’ll have a lot of cap space to play with, and they could try and trade for Jimmy Butler now and compete to get another star like Kyrie Irving this summer.
This trade would be built on the premise of the Timberwolves gaining three things: expiring contracts, a young player with potential and a draft pick. Demarre Carroll and Darrell Arthur are both expiring contracts who add something to the Timberwolves offense that is lacking: 3-point shooting. Caris LeVert (or Spencer Dinwiddie if the Wolves prefer him) is a young player with solid potential, and throwing in a first round pick, the Nets have a few to play with, could lead the Wolves to accept.
New York Knicks
I actually think the Knicks would be super hesitant to trade for Jimmy. The last time they traded for a star (Carmelo Anthony) who they could have gotten in free agency, it wrecked their future. So, I doubt the Knicks actually try trading for Jimmy, and would rather wait for next summer’s free agency.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Lob City era is over, and the Clippers are a middle of the pack team. They have a lot of young pieces so they might be able to make something work.
Using the Suns’ interest in Patrick Beverley, the Clippers are able to swing Troy Daniels and a second rounder in addition to the first rounder they surrender in this trade. The Clippers also throw in Jerome Robinson (or Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, whichever the Wolves prefer), a young lottery pick, to try and entice the Wolves. In order for the Wolves to take on Gallinari’s salary, the Clippers will also surrender Marcin Gortat’s expiring contract in exchange for a longer contract in Gorgui Dieng.
Los Angeles Lakers
They weren’t on his list, but the Lakers should still try and get Jimmy to pair with LeBron. However, due to the nature of the way their contracts are laid out, the Lakers wouldn’t be able to make a trade that complies with salary restrictions until early to mid-October. This is because of the rule stating you cannot trade a player you signed until December 15 or 3 months after they sign their contract- whichever comes sooner.
They were ~kind of~ in the LeBron and Paul George sweepstakes, so why not try and get another star to pair with their young core?
Throw in a first rounder from Philly, and this could be a deal. The Wolves get a young-ish quality player in Robert Covington and an expiring contract in Wilson Chandler. The addition of a draft pick from Philly would make this trade much more compelling for Minnesota.
After making a trade for Kawhi Leonard earlier this offseason, the Raptors are clearly in win-now mode. With a few young pieces on their bench, they could look to unload those guys for Jimmy Butler.
There isn’t much Toronto can do, and this is probably the best they have to offer. They can’t throw in a pick because that already belongs to the Spurs, and Fred van Vleet can’t be traded until December. OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam are youngsters who the Wolves might value, and Serge Ibaka is a contract filler.
There is the potential that the Wolves decide to hold on to Jimmy, and instead trade away one of the two players (Wiggins and KAT) who he has been unhappy with.
The Wolves would throw in a pick to convince Charlotte to trade their all-star, and two of their other better players on the roster. But this trade would work for both teams.
Nic Batum adds a 3-point element to the Wolves offense that Andrew Wiggins doesn’t have, and although his defense hasn’t been great recently, it has been solid in the past. Swapping Jeff Teague with one of the most underrated players in the NBA would do wonders for the Wolves offense. A “big three” of Kemba, Butler and KAT would be very nice on offense, and Kemba adds a defensive element that the Wolves want. The Dieng and Zeller swap is for money reasons to make the trade work, but it would also help out the Wolves, as Zeller has been a superior player to Dieng since both players joined the NBA.
As of now, I think the most likely team to trade for Jimmy is the Nets. They have the contracts and young pieces to make it work, and the Nets don’t have to worry as much about Butler not re-signing next offseason. Plus, this would help the Nets possibly land Kyrie Irving, who has reportedly wanted to play with Jimmy Butler, next free agency.