When Jimmy Butler was initially traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the potential of the team was scary. The pairing of Butler with former coach Tom Thibodeau and Karl Anthony Towns had Wolves fans more than excited for the 2016 season. Unfortunately, the Timberwolves have done nothing but disappoint, with back to back first round exits. This turmoil led into yesterday when Butler met with Thibodeau in Los Angeles to discuss an extension in Minnesota. But Butler had different plans, demanding to start the season on another roster, specifying his top choices as the Clippers, Nets, and Knicks.
Butler is a four-time all-star with career averages of 16.4 points, 3.4 assists, and 4.9 rebounds, cementing himself as an elite shooting guard with the propensity to make any team he joins a win-now franchise (Butler’s highlights). Let’s take a look at his preferred options and what Butler would bring to the table…
The Clippers have been the best team in LA for a number of years ever since Kobe Bryant retired. Except now the Lakers have LeBron James, and who knows who else will join the Lakers next season. However, if Butler were to join the Clippers there could be an entertaining rivalry in LA… at least for a year.
The Clippers still have some good pieces that would offer some good support to Jimmy Buckets. Lou Williams was arguably snubbed from last year’s all-star team and won the sixth man of the year award. Patrick Beverly and Tobias Harris are savvy veterans who will be crucial to the success of the Clippers this year regardless of Butler’s decision. Considering that they had a winning record last year (42-40), the addition of Butler could boost this team into the playoff conversation in the talented Western Conference.
Talent wise the Clippers have some intriguing pieces, but what’s more important is their salary space and the living conditions in LA that make the Clippers a hard option to ignore. My only question is why Butler is not interested in being traded to the Lakers instead.
The Nets have been one of the laughing stocks of the NBA for quite some time, so the news of Butler listing this team as a top option was a surprise to many. However, it really just seems that Butler is trying to get to the Big Apple.
With a 28-54 record, the Nets had a typical Nets season. A lack of young talent and poor management makes it hard to imagine that they are going to be much better next year. However, things are looking up for the Nets, considering that they are actually going to have their first-round pick this year. To put it frankly, the Nets are a rebuilding team and though the addition of Butler could get them in the playoff conversation in the lowly East, their ceiling is capped by their lack of raw talent.
The Knicks round out Butler’s preferred trade destinations. Also located in New York City, the Knicks have been the better franchise, even though they’ve also been pretty abysmal. Once again Butler is choosing this team because of location and cap space.
Last year the Knicks had a record of 29-53, and were especially bad after star power forward Kristaps Porzingis was injured. Fast forward to now and things are looking up for this franchise, with lottery pick Kevin Knox showing promise and the acquisition of Enes Kanter midway through the season helping the front court and drama department of the team. Not to mention trade rumors swirling around as other superstars around the league seem to be interested. (Looking at you, Kyrie Irving.)
The Knicks have some good young talent, but the team is still rebuilding and developing at this point in time. This team would definitely turn into a playoff contender if Butler, and possibly another superstar in the future, would join. But until then, the Knicks have to continue building through the draft.
More recent reports listed that Butler put the Clippers at the top of his list. Considering their winning record last year and location in Los Angeles, it is easy to understand Butler’s rationale. However, if the Timberwolves don’t want Butler in the West, I would think that the Knicks would be able to offer the most to the Bulls, and his presence on the team could be the best fit out of these three.
Wherever Butler ends up will drastically improve that teams expectations heading into the season. The real ramifications of this deal will be seen in the up-and-coming Karl Anthony Towns extension talks. It’ll also be interesting to see if Butler secures a max contract and whether the Timberwolves will be able to attain fair value for him in a trade.