Jimmy Butler, who has reportedly requested a trade, might not end up leaving the Timberwolves after all. With things a bit tumultuous right now, for the Timberwolves, I wonder where Butler could go? The writing has been on the wall for Butler to ask for a trade, after long rumored issues between him and some of his younger teammates. According to reports, Butler has requested that he get traded to the Nets, Knicks or the Clippers. It sounds a bit like he’s tired of Minneapolis and is just looking for a more happening place, doesn’t it? That said, there might be method to his madness. Those teams may not look like contenders right now, but if Butler is willing to play the long game, these three teams certainly do make sense.
But what it comes down to is cap space. The Nets, Knicks, and Clippers will each have significant space next summer. If they trade for Butler—who, importantly, is an on expiring deal—it’s possible each team will be in a position to 1) not part with their top assets and 2) have enough money to sign another superstar to join Butler next summer. But 2019 is going to be loaded in terms of free agency with Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving all being eligible to be bid on.
What if Butler goes to the Clippers—and L.A. can pair him with Kawhi Leonard and more talent next summer? What if the Nets can surround Butler with Kyrie Irving and another All-Star? Imagine if the Knicks had a core of Jimmy, Kyrie and Kristaps Porzingis? Maybe going to the Knicks isn’t exactly an easy move for Butler, but the Clippers and the Nets have both made some positive moves under Jerry West and Sean Marks. Ultimately all three of the organizations have made moves in the past couple of seasons that make them at least somewhat attractive to stars. So maybe this kind of trade deal isn’t completely out of the question.
This might not be that straightforward though. The Timberwolves could trade Butler to another team. The Lakers, Sixers, the Heat, as well as many other teams might be interested in Butler. And we’ve seen these kinds of plans go awry before. A bigger question to consider is just how effective Butler will be in two years, and he’ll be earning considerably more than he is now. Not to mention that he might not be in the best physical shape given how much work he puts in, so that’s definitely going to impact his ability to play.
The payoff for the Butler request could come sooner rather than later, with training camp around the corner and Wolves possibly not wanting to put up with the most awkward media day of all time. Butler actually heading to the Nets, Knicks or Clippers wouldn’t create a contender overnight. But the Wolves aren’t winning a championship this season either. This kind of trade request isn’t necessarily a crazy one. Where he will end up, is anyone’s guess at this time.