Rob is one of the primary NBA contributors to The Five By 5.
Jimmy Butler wants out.
As reported by The Athletics Shams Charania, Jimmy Butler has officially asked to be traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Throughout this last season, there were numerous reports of growing tensions between Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Even previously beloved coach Tom Thibodeau had been caught in the crossfire with reports indicating that coach Thibs had all but lost the locker-room (and even some members of the Wolves ownership group and front-office). But these despite the season long rumblings of issues, and a trade request from Butler seeming like an inevitable outcome, the Wolves had hoped to find a remedy for the brewing problems. But with those hopes now dashed, Butlers’ trade request comes at one of the worst possible times for the Minnesota Timberwolves with training camp opening in less than a week,
In todays league, trading for a player of Jimmy Butler’s caliber (and salary) becomes almost impossible this time of year. Why? There’s no cap space left. This summer we saw the pendulum swing back from the infamous 2016 cap inflation and subsequent bloated spending by teams in free agency. Teams this year were more frugal than ever with their money and as such, we saw several veteran players getting below market deals or being forced to take one year deals that provided more financial gain but less long term stability. This is just one symptom of leagues’ current market: there are almost zero teams with cap space left. According to my math, the only teams with cap space left are Phoenix ($1,994,649.00) and Sacramento ($9,675,195.00), both of whom are not on Butlers’ short-list of desired destinations. And as a reminder: the CBA states that a team must get to 20 percent of a players salary when operating as an above the salary cap team (presumably every team trying to acquire him). Why is this a problem for the Wolves when trying to trade Butler? Unless you’re the Kings or Suns, the team trading for Butler will not only have to match money according the CBA rules for trades, but they’ll have significant difficulty in doing so.
The other piece that makes this an egregious situation is that any free agent signed this summer also can’t be traded until December 15th. So, for example, if Utah wanted to trade for Butler, they couldn’t include Derrick Favors in the deal until later in the year because he just signed a new deal with the Jazz this offseason. And without being able to include a player like Favors’ and his contract, which would essentially be required to make the money work under the rules of the CBA, it would kill the deal before it even had a chance to get started.
With that sort of CBA stuff sorted out lets get into the list.
As per ESPNs’ Adrian Wojnarowski, the 3 preferred locations Butler would like to be traded to are: the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Clippers and the New York Knicks. (with the Clippers being reported as the most preferred of the 3)
So, what could each of these teams offer? And what do I think each team will ultimately end up doing?
This is an interesting trade partner for the Wolves for a number of reasons. One: the Nets starting point is one of the lowest of the three teams as far as an asset standpoint is concerned. If Minnesota wants to continue to push for a playoff spot, a trade centered on DeMarre Carroll (decent player, but would be included more for salary reasons, and is on an expiring deal) and one or two of Spencer Dinwiddie, D’Angelo Russell, Caris Levert or Jarrett Allen would be a likely starting point. The Nets, who finally have their first round pick after many years of not owning it, would be un-wise to part with it (to say the least), especially as their roster doesn’t appear to be ready to make a playoff run just ye, even with a talent like Butler. Pushing for the 8th seed in the East would most likely be outside their capabilities. Sean Marks (the Nets GM) has made a bunch of heady smaller deals to try and replenish an asset chest that was totally ridden of anything worth value.
My prediction: Brooklyn holds its cards and goes into next summer with two max cap slots.
New York Knicks:
The mecca seems to be finally back as a legit landing spot for super star talents in the league. Though not expected to contend this year with super star Kristaps Porzingis likely out a large chunk of the season with a torn ACL, it's starting to become a team of intrigue. Porzingis is the big draw for alongside the ever-constant pull of performing under the big lights of the New York stage, but lottery picks Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox also raise intrigue. However, they do not have talent outside of those guys to pull a trade off. For as much as there have been rumors of Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving wanting to play together in New York, the only way this gets done is if the Knicks give up one of their aforementioned lottery picks or a future first round pick. I don't see this happening at all. As far as assets and filler salary, it makes no sense for where the Knicks are in their rebuild or the direction the Wolves want to go. As per Ian Begley: Steve Mills stated at a fan event this past Monday that the Knicks will not trade assets for a player they think they can sign in free agency. They should stay true to this statement and let the call go to voicemail when it inevitably rings.
My prediction: The Knicks stand pat and keep hoping for better days ahead.
Los Angeles Clippers:
If you have followed any of my work over the last eight months, you know my stance about the Clippers potentially loading up. This is what I was waiting for and now I think I finally see a vision. When the teams got announced I immediately went to the Clippers roster and it came to me fairly quickly. Now this trade sounds nuts and crazy, but trust me, If there’s one thing I'm certain of it’s thisL Steve Balmer and the Clippers stff (who are super smart and creative) are big game hunting. They’re not in the business of letting the LeBron lea Lakers own the town again for the next few years. I have the Clippers giving up their two-first round picks this year (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson) and Danilo Gallinari for Jimmy Butler and Tyus Jones. While still a good player, Gallinari is way overpaid and was never going to be apart of the next great Clippers squad. For the Timberwolves, you get two young guys who you can hope to develop while giving you dept (albeit an over paid one). And Gallo might just be a perfect stretch 4 to play with Towns. If you break this deal down, the Clippers would essentially be giving up a first round pick for Butler and the other first rounder would be to dump Gallinari. The Wolves have zero leverage, and a package like this would be excellent given their current situation. For the Clippers, it would give them a total of zero bad contracts, and a total of only $21,520,640 in guaranteed salaries going into next year’s off-season. The reason this is all very relevant is because with that much cap space, they would be able to sign two other max cap guys AND re-sign Butler using his bird rights.
(Also, see the picture below from Zach Lowes' twitter to better understand the Avery Bradley situation):
Thus giving them roughly $88 million dollars to go back into the market for someone like…. Oh, maybe a player like Kawhi Leonard (who has openly stated through his representatives that he wants to be in LA) or any of the other big ticket free agents that will be available next summer. I know it seems crazy moving on from two lottery picks this early for a guy they can probably sign outright next summer. However, moving the Gallinari contract is a key part of the deal for them that could catapult them into becoming a legit contender.
My Prediction: He ends up with the Clippers.
Dark Horse: Miami Heat
Though not stated on “The List” Miami is the kind of market Jimmy Butler might gravitate towards. They have plenty of smart and good rotation guys on good to solid salaries that make this trade possible in a variety of ways. Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Justice Winslow and Bam Adebayo are all players that could be included in a potential deal. Also of note here is that Dwayne Wade is a close friend of Butlers’. They spent a year together in Chicago, went to the same college (albeit at different times) and spend good portions of their off-seasons vacationing and working out together. And lets be honest: Miami is always big game hunting. Wade could be a strong presence and an important key in negotiations if Miami were to try and even get on the list, and even eventually getting him to sign their long term.
Jimmy Butler: Heavy.com
Tweet: Zach Lowe's twitter account
We do not claim ownership of any of the photo's. All photo's have been used under the "fair use" guidelines.