By: Dan Slaubaugh
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know by now that Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota.
In addition, here are the main things we seem to know:
-Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota so he can play in a large market. That, and he’s not getting along with Wolves building blocks Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
-Butler has his sights set on Los Angeles (Clippers), Brooklyn, or New York.
-No one knows who to call to make an offer on Butler. Reports have varied so much within the last 24 hours that we don’t know if Glen Taylor is making the deal alone, if Scott Layden is handling calls, or if they’re all working in unison. Literally no one has a clue, which is both asburd and hilarious.
-11 teams have reported being interested in acquiring Butler. That’s a lot of teams. But shouldn't that be expected when a top-10 player becomes available?
Now, let’s consider what those 11 teams have to offer. I’m going to be short and sweet because he could be traded any second and I don’t want to spend my entire Sunday afternoon going in vast detail on this, clicking post, then seeing he’s been traded. That would stink and I have better things to do (just kidding, I definitely don’t).
All trades have been ESPN Trade Machine approved.
Los Angeles Clippers
Realistic offer: Tobias Harris, Lou Williams for Butler
Tobias Harris, 25, would be the key piece in the return and fits the development timelines of Towns and Wiggins to an extent. He was elite from deep last year knocking down 41.1 percent of his threes, but I doubt that’s sustainable. A return built around Harris wouldn’t be terrible, but with only one year left on his deal, he becomes expensive after this season.
Dan’s interest level: 6/10
Realistic offer: Allen Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Caris Levert, 2019 first round pick and 2020 second round pick for Butler and Dieng
Brooklyn is one of the least desirable trade partners with the Wolves. They have no great pieces to offer. Caris Levert is intriguing, but most of you probably aren’t familiar with him which probably says he isn’t worth biting the bullet for. Basically, anyone of interest that they have is on a one-year deal. With Butler, and in a weak Eastern Conference, the Nets would rack up enough wins to make their 2019 1st round pick (which would undoubtedly come to Minnesota in the trade) not all that appealing. No thanks. Actually, just no.
Dan’s interest level: 1/10
New York Knicks
Realistic offer: Kevin Knox/Frank Ntilikina, Tim Hardaway Jr., 2019 first round pick for Butler
Knox (19) or Ntilikina (20) would be the key piece in the return. Given how young the two are, I doubt this would be Taylor’s top choice - and definitely not Thibodeau’s (though I doubt he has a say). Hardaway Jr. is a fine two-way piece, but he can’t shoot and is owed 18 million per year through 2020-2021. Personally, I would rather the Wolves trade for someone who fits the timelines of Towns and Wiggins rather than a first or second-year player still years away from being a winning player. Knox and Ntilikina do have exciting upside, however, and Wolves fans are used to waiting around for talent to develop. I’d be pretty content with a trade involving one of the two young guys, preferably Knox.
Dan’s interest level: 5/10
Realistic offer: There are none.
Luke Kennard and Khyri Thomas are nice young pieces you could surround Towns and Wiggins with, but there’s absolutely no way to make the money work (Wolves aren’t taking back Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond, or Blake Griffin) unless they get a third team involved.
Dan’s interest level: Doesn’t matter. Not gonna happen.
Realistic offer: Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynk for Butler
The Wolves wouldn’t be interested in taking on the expensive contracts of players such as Hassan Whiteside or Tyler Johnson. That could mean sending away a package of still-developing talents like Bam Adebayo, Josh Richardson or Justise Winslow, a strategy that the team hasn’t been eager to pursue in the past. In a March piece, ESPN NBA Senior Writer Zach Lowe called Josh Richardson "Miami's best all-around player" and a "terror on defense", which is certainly encouraging to hear considering Miami has been actively discussing a trade with the Wolves over the past 24 hours.
Dan’s interest level: 7/10
Realistic offer: Dario Saric/Robert Covington, Wilson Chandler; or Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, 2019 first round pick for Butler
Trade #1: Saric struggles defensively, but his offensive game makes up for it. Covington is one of the game’s best perimeter defenders and would instantly make the Wolves better on that end. Wilson, on a one-year deal, would make the team better this season and come off the books next summer.
Trade #2: In all honesty, what the Wolves really need to mold into contenders is an all-star guard who can light up the scoreboard any given night. Fultz has that kind of potential, but any chance of this deal happening would mean the Timberwolves feel comfortable that Fultz’s shot has returned to form. Still, there's a reason Fultz went number one overall. I'd pull this trigger and not think twice about it.
Trade #1 interest level: 9/10
Trade #2 interest level: 10/10
Realistic offer: Eric Gordon, PJ Tucker, 2019 first round pick and 2020 second round pick for Butler
According to recent reports, the Rockets are prepared to make a trade offer for Jimmy Butler in a package centered on Eric Gordon and some fillers. His catch-and-shoot three-point shooting with Towns and Wiggins as option 1 and 2 would be fun, but too short-sighted. This package doesn't help the future of the Wolves plus Gordon, 29, has been injury-prone his entire career. Their filler options aren't great and a pick is going to be late first round. No thank you.
Dan’s interest level: 1/10
Portland Trail Blazers
Realistic offer: Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Gary Trent Jr., 2019 first round pick for Butler
Apparently, the Blazers are unwilling to include CJ McCollum in any deal. So, unless you want a bunch of bad contracts back, the Blazers have nothing of interest to offer in a Butler trade. Bye.
Note: I thought Portland might deal McCollum and hope to convince Butler to stay. Then, if he leaves, they’d have at least rid themselves of McCollum’s hefty contract and have the money to go out and sign someone who fits better with Dame -- because the two together aren't getting them to the championship.
I thought wrong.
Dan’s interest level: 0/10
If McCollum was included: 10/10
Realistic offer: Cedi Osman, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson for Butler and Dieng
Do I really have to explain why the Cavs are a bad trade partner? None of those guys are future assets, if even current assets. Plus, much like the Nets, the Cavs - with Butler and Love - would rack up enough wins to make their 2019 1st round pick (which would undoubtedly come to Minnesota in the trade) not all that appealing. Their most intriguing players (which are still not all that intriguing) are wings who would block the development of Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop.
Dan’s interest level: 0/10
Realistic offer: Khris Middleton, Thon Maker for Butler
This appears to be one of the more enticing deals out there. The Wolves would be getting one of the more underrated two-way players in the NBA. At 6' 8", Middleton has great size, length, is dead-eye from deep, and a good all-around defender. His skill set would allow Wiggins to get back to what he does best - attacking and slashing. He’s someone who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. Middleton's contract next year is a player option so my guess he opts out because he will earn more than the 13 million his player option is for. Even then, he's the kind of player worth throwing 20 million/year at.
Dan’s interest level: 9/10
Realistic offer: Bradley Beal/Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris for Butler and Dieng
This would allow the Wolves to move Dieng's contract. Plus, Morris could be movable later this season. Beal is a dream and Porter Jr. has proven to be a really good two-way player (signed through 2020-2021). Both are good fits next to Wiggins and make about the same money. Washington is stuck middling. This would give them the opportunity to shake things up. If Butler leaves, they gain cap flexibility.
Dan's interest level: 9/10