Jimmy Butler getting a contract offer from Minnesota...probably...
Today was the long awaited meeting between Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler and Head Coach and Team President Tom Thibodeau and it did not go as many expected. It's being reported by multiple sources, namely Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski, that Butler is looking to be traded to either the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, and New York Knicks. I'll let you come to your own conclusions as to what it means for Butler to request to go to these teams, but I want to look into these rosters and find a trade that's fair for both teams, works out in terms of cap space and other trade regulations, and doesn't get a third team involved. All these trade scenarios also assume that Butler commits to signing long term with the team he's traded to.
Nets receive: G Jimmy Butler, F Anthony Tolliver
Timberwolves receive: Net's 2019 first round pick (unprotected), Denver's 2019 first round pick (protected 1-12), G Caris Levert, C Jarrett Allen, F Rondae Hollis-Jefferson
photo by: Erik Drost
This is probably the most unlikely of the three trades honestly. Brooklyn finally got their first round draft picks back, and after agreeing to a historically bad trade with the Boston Celtics years ago I don't see them being so willing to give up more when even with Jimmy Butler, they would be poised for a season in the bottom half of the playoffs or (even more likely) in the lottery. That being said, the Nets would get an All-Star in his prime committed to Brooklyn. That's never been something Brooklyn has been able to claim. You'd have to go back to their New Jersey days to find that in Jason Kidd. You could argue Deron Williams, but he was more on the tail end of his prime that Jimmy is right now.
As for Minnesota, they get role players in return with no one really expected to be a center-piece like the previous Jimmy Butler trade (Chicago got Lavine and Dunn who were expected to be long-term starters). Minnesota instead gets role players that can contribute to a winning team hoping to win a playoff series this year. They have their stars in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins, good starters in Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, and rotation pieces from last year still in place in Derrick Rose, Gorgui Deing, and Tyus Jones. Getting back plug and play players along with two first rounders would be a good haul for the Timberwolves that are looking for structure.
Los Angeles Clippers
Clippers receive: G Jimmy Butler, F Anthony Tolliver,
Timberwolves receive: G Avery Bradley, G Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, F Montrezl Harrell, 2019 second round pick
photo from Wikimedia Commons
The talent coming over from the Clippers is certainly better than what the Nets would offer. Avery Bradley is a second team all-defense caliber player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a unproven lottery pick, and Mortrezl Harrell is a young forward that plays with energy. Does that scream Tom Thibodeau or what? Due to the talent of Bradley and the fact the Clippers don't own their first round pick until 2021, it's hard to imagine that they give up a first round pick. It's also being reported that the Clippers are the preferred destination out of the three which gives the Clippers the luxury of having to give less than others. Butler can help the Clippers compete for a low playoff seed and even if they just miss the playoffs, the Clippers will have another max contract spot open for a free agent like Kawhi Leonard.
The Timberwolves are in a good position here to replace Butler with a solid starting in Bradley and two young pieces to have grow over time with the rest of the young core. These guys all fit the Thibodeau system and should transition into the locke room nicely.
New York Knicks
Knicks receive: G Jimmy Butler, F Anthony Tolliver, G Josh Okogie
Timberwolves receive: C Joakim Noah, F Kevin Knox, G Emmanuel Mudiay, 2019 first round pick (protected 1-5)
photo by: Jim Larrison
I'm sorry, but I refuse to believe that Joakim Noah wouldn't be involved in this trade if he still finds himself on the Knicks roster by the time they discuss a package. Not only does it give Thibs the final piece to completing the TimberBulls, but financially it's also important. The Knicks could also Enes Kanter, Tim Hardaway Jr., or Courtney Lee to help work the money side of things, but let's be honest based on all the crazy that has been the Timberwolves, it's going to be Noah who makes his way over. The Knicks here would be one step closer to getting Kyrie Irving in 2019 by bringing in his close friend Jimmy Butler and also gives them a hope for the playoffs while Kristpas Porzingis recovers from his injury.
Minnesota on the other hand get a Noah who has SO much value to Thibs (see above), a 2018 Summer League superstar in Kevin Knox who should be able to compliment Wiggins well on the wing, and a Emmanuel Mudiay who is trying to prove he's worth a nice contract extension after being on his third team in four years. Not to mention the Knicks first round pick which should fall in the mid-first range.
Keeping Jimmy Butler long-term needs to be plan number one for the Timberwolves, but if a trade does emerge with one of these teams, it should look something like this.
Also, I'd like to add that nothing is wrong with Anthony Tolliver. He has no problem with the Timberwolves, he just happens to be a contract that is helpful when doing the math.