Photo Courtesy of Heat Nation
By Glen Ivol
Jimmy Butler must really hate Minnesota. Or Tom Thibodeau. Or KAT. Or Andrew Wiggins. Ok, you get the picture - Jimmy Butler is obviously unhappy. Three weeks ago, he requested to Thibs that he wanted would like to be traded during an in-person meeting in LA. After Thibs and the Timberwolves made little progress, aside from a deal with the Heat that fell through at the last minute, Butler took things into his own hands. After keeping his distance and not showing up yet this preseason, Butler arrived yesterday and raised hell at practice. Woj outlined Butler’s antics at practice, from challenging KAT and Wiggins to leading the third stringers to a win over the starts to telling GM Scott Layden, “You fucking need me. You can’t win without me.” This is unchartered waters for the NBA as we never really see stars demand a trade then use brute force at a practice to make everyone else’s life hell. Where the Timberwolves – and Butler – go from here is hard to figure out. Thibs is stubborn and does not want to trade Butler, believing he can still help the team more than he hurts them. However, something has to give as it’s clear to all parties involved that Butler is leaving Minnesota – whether it happens via a trade or when he opts out of his contract after the season ends. Once Butler is gone, Thibs and other decision makers may see the door right after him due to how this situation has become such a mess.
If the Timberwolves do decide to finally trade Butler, here is a couple of deals that Thibs and Co. should pull the trigger on:
Revisiting a Miami Deal
Timberwolves: SG Josh Richardson, C Hassan Whiteside
Heat: SG Jimmy Butler, C Gorgui Dieng, 2019 Second Rd Pick
The Heat want Butler more than any other team as they look to add a star in the depleted Eastern Conference. Getting Josh Richardson back is huge for the Timberwolves, as he is a player on the rise with a great contract (4 years, $42 million). Whiteside finally gets to leave Miami, but he lands with Thibs who may make his life hell. The benefit of Whiteside for Minnesota is his contract is a year shorter than Dieng. Miami walks away looking like a top-5 team in the East while removing Whiteside’s cancerous attitude from the locker room.
Raptors Go for Broke
Timberwolves: SF Norman Powell, SF OG Anunoby, SG Danny Green
Raptors: SG Jimmy Butler, SF Kieta Bates-Diop
It feels like the Raptors are still one step behind the Celtics for favorite in the East. Getting Kawhi Leonard changed the dynamic of the franchise, but Butler could be what puts them over the edge. Pairing Leonard and Butler on the wing with Lowry running the point makes them arguably the best team in the East with lockdown defensive capabilities. Anunoby is the prize acquisition for the Timberwolves. He started over 60 games as a rookie last season after falling in the draft due to a torn ACL while in college. He flashed legitimate two-way potential and should continue to grow next to Wiggins. Green is more of a throw for monetary reasons, but he can still provide value as a rotational piece. Powell seems to have stagnated in Toronto and the Raptors will be happy to move on from four years of him, but he seems like a player Thibs would thrive with.
New York Makes their Move
Timberwolves: G Frank Ntilikina, SG Courtney Lee, SF Lance Thomas, 2019 Second Rd Pick
Knicks: SG Jimmy Butler
It’s no secret the Knicks have been trying to a star to come aboard the last few years. Butler had the Knicks on his shortlist on destinations, which gives New York motivation to pull the trigger to acquire the star via trade. Ntilikina may be the odd man out, as there is no way the Knicks trade Kristaps Porzingis, Kevin Knox, or even Mitchell Robinson – the upside of those three are too great. In Ntilikina, the Timberwolves are getting a combo guard that could turn into the elite defender that Thibs loves. Lee and Thomas are just ancillary pieces to add to Timberwolves rotation and give depth to their wing position that so badly needed it last season. Also, for the Knicks, this could be their last ditch effort to convince Kyrie Irving to at least consider looking at them – despite what he recently said.
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