The NBA off-season truly never ends. Today news broke that Jimmy Butler has officially told Tom Thibodeau that he wants out of Minnesota, while also giving him a shortlist of teams he would like to be traded to. Those teams are the Nets, Knicks, and Clippers. Of course, the Wolves don’t have to trade him anywhere they don’t feel like it (see the Spurs trading Kawhi to Toronto, or Indiana trading Paul George to OKC), and will do what is best for them. Here I’ll try and go over the teams that have a realistic shot at acquiring Jimmy Butler, with a realistic (or close to) package each team can offer.
Five things to keep in mind when assessing any potential trade for Jimmy Butler
- Teams usually never get full value for a star player after a trade demand becomes public.
- Teams don’t offer their best assets for a player entering free agency.
- Will this new drama between Butler and Andrew Wiggins affect his stock?
- How long will the Wolves hold out their hopes for Butler staying? The longer they keep him, the more his trade value drops.
- Jimmy Butler originally netted the Bulls Zach Lavine (nice but flawed player), Kris Dunn (turns out to be fine, but was viewed as a potential bust after year one), and a first round pick when he had 2 years remaining on his deal. Which team is going to give up more than that with less than a year left and no assurances of him staying?
Now, let’s get to the offers.
New York Knicks
One thing we have to remember about teams trading away their stars, they almost never get full value in return. Ntilikina is a young promising guard with great defensive potential, and Lee and Thomas could provide the outside shooting their team lacks. If I were the Knicks I wouldn’t give up Kevin Knox, but I would be willing to give up a protected first to seal the deal.
The problem with any potential Nets offer is their assets. They have a few young players with potential, and some nice players they took flyers on to acquire future picks, but are they willing to trade any of them for Jimmy Butler? If they do decide to go that route, LeVert is the most likely to go because of the positional fit and his two way potential could be appealing to Thibs. Faried could be a nice fit next to Towns, except he’s basically a more athletic Taj Gibson without the mid-range jumper. And Dudley could replace Butler as the veteran voice in the locker room.
Los Angeles Clippers
This move for Minnesota is all about trying to maintain a playoff push next season. Tobias Harris can play multiple positions and has improved his outside shooting a great deal, and Pat Beverley seems like the typical Thibs player. As for the Clippers: they trade guys they were likely going to let walk next season, while maintaining their cap flexibility next summer. This also allows the Clippers to free up more minutes for incoming rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
First Kawhi and now Jimmy Butler? This would be quite a summer for the Raptors if they could pull it off. They didn’t have to trade their two best young assets OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam for Leonard, so I highly doubt Masai would trade them for Butler. The Wolves can do this deal to get a shot blocking stretch-four to put alongside Towns in Ibaka, a young player that has flashed plenty of two-way potential in Delon Wright, and a flyer on a young athletic wing that is on a manageable contract if he can bounce back from a down season in Norman Powell. They do all this while also being able to clear the money they owe to Gorgui Dieng.
The rich get richer with this trade. Houston gets provided another top option that can help James Harden from tiring out come playoff time, and will keep them near the top of the West with the eventual 15-20 missed games from Chris Paul. It’ll be tough to lose the shooting of Gordon and the physical defensive presence of Tucker, but acquiring Butler and creating a big four of Paul, Harden, Butler, and Capela would be too big to pass up.
Milwaukee is a farfetched destination for Butler considering the contracts they have on the books, but Maker and Wilson have enough upside for the Wolves to take a swing at if there aren’t comparable offers. And the Bucks need to be making every swing they can, even if Giannis has stated his willingness to stay long term. The question about any potential Bucks pursuit of Butler is, would they be willing to include Eric Bledsoe or Khris Middleton to get a deal done?
With this trade the T-Wolves can get a little of both worlds. Both Porter and Satoransky are young enough to be decent building blocks for their future while also helping them compete for a playoff spot now. Porter is one of the more underrated 3-and-D wings in the league right now, and Satoransky is a good young guard that can play multiple positions. The main hiccup here would be the Dieng contract, seeing as how they just signed Dwight Howard and still owe Ian Mahinmi big money.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans would have to throw in multiple protected first round picks to make any deal happen because their lack of assets outside of Davis and Holiday is putrid. They like how their offense performed last year with Mirotic in the lineup, but he’s the most likely guy Thibs would want if he’s still trying to win now, and they do go back to Chicago so it continues the new “TimberBulls” revolution.
The Heat are the potential wild card in the Butler sweepstakes. They can offer a great head coach, stable front office and ownership group (something he’s not used to), and who doesn’t want to live in Miami? If I’m Minnesota I demand no less than both Richardson/Winslow and Adebayo in return, but that might even be too much for Miami to want to give up.
Golden State Warriors
This would be a troll job of the highest order if the Warriors pulled off a Jimmy butler trade. Andre Iguodala is the biggest moneymaker outside of their big 4 and would be a likely cap casualty next summer if Joe Lacob doesn’t want a tax bill over $200M, and the Wolves get two decent young prospects in the deal. Iguodala could help mentor Wiggins better than Butler did, and still help them push for the playoffs. The Wolves would be crazy to make a deal with the Warriors, but it’s still a funny possibility to think about.