Jimmy Butler wants out. That’s not a secret anymore after he requested a trade from the Timberwolves. The drama never seems to stop in the NBA and now every team, executive, player, and fan is trying to project where Butler may wind up. It has already been reported Butler prefers a trade to the Knicks, Nets, or Clippers. The latter team just flat out makes the most sense. Let’s take a look at why the Clippers – Butler marriage is probably destined to happen.
First, we have to address the elephant in the room. Tom Thibodeau isn’t just the coach. He is also the President of Basketball Operations and in control of personnel decisions. Thibs is coaching for his job this season and has no interest in starting a rebuild. That means any trade package involving draft picks won’t even be considered. I’m sure Thibs has no interest in even dealing Butler because of his TimberBulls fetish but he may not have a choice.
Ownership may have to force his hand here. A: Karl-Anthony Towns already said he won’t sign an extension until the Butler situation is resolved. I’m sure Minnesota will do everything to make sure they keep their young center for the foreseeable future. B: Butler is an impending free agent. Do you really want to lose an All-Star caliber player for nothing? C: The locker room is in shambles. There are rumors that Jimmy Butler was messing around with KAT’s girlfriend. We have Andrew Wiggins’ brother calling out Jimmy Butler. We have Butler making a workout video to make fun of Wiggins. We even have the retired Stephen Jackson calling out Wiggins for having no heart. He’s probably right by the way. Doing nothing and just bringing Butler to the team probably isn’t an option.
When trying to forecast a future trade, the Clippers really stand out as the best alternative. The Knicks are pathetic. They have nothing to offer. The Nets are also pathetic and have nothing to offer either. However, the third team on that list, The LA Clippers, do have something to offer. How does Tobias Harris sound as the headliner of a trade? Harris averaged 19.3 points on 47.3 percent shooting a year ago. He’s also 6-foot-8 and adds some length defensively. Harris also shot over 41 percent from deep for a team that struggles in that area in general. I’m not saying Tobias Harris is Jimmy Butler but they may not be losing as much as people think.
If you add in another piece or two, then I think the Timberwolves really have to consider this trade. How about gritty Pat Beverly? Maybe the Wolves like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander or Jerome Robinson. Montrezl Harrell or even Lou Williams is an interesting player as a piece in a deal. The important part of this deal is that both Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris are impending free agents. LA will likely have to let Harris go after this season anyway if they want to be major players in free agency. Adding Butler in a trade now and getting him in the fold would also allow the Clippers to up their free agency pitches. Who wants to join the Clippers with a bunch of nobodies on the roster? Pairing Kawhi Leonard with Jimmy Butler now becomes much more interesting. LA will have room for two max slots this upcoming summer.
I think any team that acquires Butler has to also factor in age and injury history. This guy has played way too many minutes under Thibs. Well, you could say that about any T-Wolves starter. He also missed a bunch of games with a knee injury towards the end of the season. Butler, 30, will require a 5-year max deal worth around $180 million. Do you really want to be in the Butler business in year 4 or 5 of that deal?
Butler clearly likes LA as it is his preferred destination. I won’t add the Lakers to this list because clearly no one wants to play with LeBron and he makes his teammates worse anyway. The Celtics seem like a long shot given the contracts they already have on the books. The only other logical trade partner that makes sense is the 76ers. Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a pick could be tempting. The 76ers claim that their star hunting for their third guy so go get Jimmy Butler. He may not stay but there probably isn’t a better winning situation Butler can pursue.
Get ready folks, the NBA drama never stops so I’m sure by the time I write this another star player will request a trade.