On the Move: What’s the Best Destination for Jimmy Butler?
Last week Jimmy Butler announced his desire to be traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves. The New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, and Brooklyn Nets are among his preferred destinations. The Miami Heat have also come ostrongly as a suitor for Butler and he has expressed interest in playing for Miami. Here’s a look at which of these teams could provide the best fit for Butler.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have the cap space for a max contract and would provide Jimmy Butler with the opportunity to play alongside Kristaps Porzingis in a major market. One of the hang-ups in Jimmy joining the Knicks would be whether they can create the cap space for another premier free agent like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving next summer. The other concern is what the Knicks would be willing to offer in exchange for Jimmy Butler. The Timberwolves asking price is reportedly high and if the Knicks give up too many assets, say a first-round pick and rookie Kevin Knox, they’d be left too shallow to compete and improve much with Jimmy Butler on their team.
Los Angeles Clippers
After trading away Blake Griffin last season, the Clippers are on the hunt for their next franchise centerpiece and Jimmy Butler could fill that role for them. The Clippers will also have enough cap space available next summer to sign Jimmy Butler and another max free agent. Butler would get to play in a major city in Los Angeles and the Clippers might offer both the best trade partner for the Timberwolves and supporting cast for Butler. The Clippers’ roster is deep and full of complementary players, including Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Austin Rivers and Tobias Harris, who could either play alongside Butler or be traded to Minnesota for Butler in a deal that could allow the Timberwolves to stay competitive while moving on from their disgruntled shooting guard.
The Miami Heat have made a strong push for Jimmy Butler and while they can’t currently afford to pair Butler with another max free agent, they have the strongest organizational stability of the teams he has shown interest in. With Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra at the helm, the Heat have won 3 championships in the last 12 years. One of the hardest working players in the league, Butler would fit right into the Heat’s rigid culture and conditioning program. Butler would also be able to play with his former Bulls teammate Dwyane Wade, in what will be Wade’s final season.
Last year Miami was able to secure the 6th seed in the East and with Jimmy Butler they’d vault into the top half of the Eastern Conference, competing with the Celtics, 76ers, and Raptors. Miami’s issue would come in finding the pieces to trade for Butler. They’d likely have to give up Justise Winslow and get a third team involved in order to move Hassan Whiteside or Dion Waiters in order to make the money work.
Most people wouldn’t expect Butler to go to the Nets but they’re on his list nonetheless. The Nets offer Jimmy Butler another opportunity to get a max contract in a major market and can also afford to add another max-level free agent. With general manager Sean Marks and head coach Kenny Atkinson, the Nets have a clear direction and culture that they’re working to establish. Butler could serve as the centerpiece to that. As far as trade assets the Nets have two first round picks this year and they’d have to find a way to match Butler’s salary. However, the Nets aren’t willing to trade Caris LeVert, who might be their best young asset. If that’s the case, they’ll likely have trouble meeting Minnesota’s needs in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes.