For those of you living under a rock, it was announced today that Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from Minnesota. Butler apparently has said his three preferred landing spots are Brooklyn, New York, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Judging from those teams, I’d venture to say Jimmy Buckets has given up on the possibility of winning a championship and is ready to prepare for his retirement. All three of those teams have an enormous amount of cap space already and will have even more as the cap continues to rise over the next two years. None the less, Butler really has no say in where he ends up because he still has a year left on his contract. Just like we saw with Kawhi Leonard this summer, any team willing to take the risk of Butler not resigning could snag him from the T-Wolves for the right price. I’ve worked some magic on the trade machine and found three of the best fits for Butler to end up with.
1. Houston Rockets
Timberwolves receive: Eric Gordon, Pj Tucker, Houston 2019 1st round pick, New York Knicks 2019 2nd round pick
Rockets receive: Jimmy Butler
The Rockets have meticulously put together one of the best teams in the NBA. The revolutionary Run ‘N Gun style offense led by coach Mike D’Antoni landed the Rockets in first place in the Western conference last year with 65 wins. This offseason they lost two huge defensive pieces in Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah Moute and replaced them with Carmelo Anthony and Joe Johnson. The Rockets are in win now mode (hence the 1 year Carmelo deal) and would be willing to take the risk of Butler not resigning. If GM Darly Morey is able to pull this off, Houston would be toting a Golden State level starting line up of Chris Paul, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Clint Capela. Their bench would be hurt losing 6th man of the year candidate Eric Gordon and defensive stopped Pj Tucker, however, they’d be getting an excellent back up point guard in Tyus Jones. The bench would likely consist of Jones/Michael Carter-Williams, Gerald Green, Joe Johnson, Marquese Chriss and Nene. It’s a roster that could easily repeat as the best team in the West and give Golden State a run for their money in the Western conference finals.
2. Portland Trailblazers
Timberwolves receive: Evan Turner, Al Faruq Aminu, Trailblazers 2019 1st round pick, 2nd round pick (Portland controls the right to several, Wolves could have their choice)
Trailblazers receive: Jimmy Butler, Cj Williams
The Trailblazers are a young team that have proven to be a feisty team in the playoffs. The team got significantly better last season with the addition of Jusuf Nurkic and the improvement of Cj McCollum. However, if the Blazers really want to be successful, they need another piece to have a shot at the Larry O’Brien trophy. Butler would be that piece and would slide in perfectly beside Damian Lillard, Cj McCollum, Maurice Harkless and Jusuf Nurkic. Butler’s elite level defense would replace the loss in Aminu and add an extra edge on the offensive side of the ball.
The Timberwolves would receive a starter in Aminu and an excellent bench player in Evan Turner, along with several draft picks.
3. New Orleans Pelicans
Timberwolves receive: Solomon Hill, Alexis Ajinca, Pelicans 2019 1st round pick, Pelicans 2020 1st round pick
Pelicans receive: Jimmy Butler
This is probably the riskiest of all the proposed trades because the Pelicans would be giving up two first round picks. There’s a potential the Pelicans could head down the same abyss the Nets have been trapped in ever since the Boston trade – or they could become NBA champions. If the Pelicans can find a way to stay healthy they have one of the most talented rosters in the league led by MVP candidate Anthony Davis. The Pelicans would be toting a starting lineup consisting of Jrue Holiday, E’twaun Moore, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Anthony Davis. They would have Julius Randle and Elfrid Payton coming off the bench as two players who were previously starters. The Pelicans would be risking a lot, especially with the potential of Butler not resigning, but would be worth it if they brought home the gold.