After months of speculation about whether he wanted to be in Minnesota, Jimmy Butler finally requested a trade during his meeting with Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
Thibodeau reportedly still doesn’t want to deal his star shooting guard, and may opt to keep him around for at least the start of the season to continue trying to mend fences — Minnesota is favored to still have Butler when the season starts for this reason. However, it seems like Butler has made up his mind and will, eventually, have to be traded.
Butler’s shortlist of preferred destinations is reportedly the Clippers, Nets, and Knicks (not the Lakers, though), and he and his camp made sure that was public knowledge to help with leveraging a deal to one of those spots. That also could explain Thibs’ determination to keep Butler being floated by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski as well, as that would keep them from looking desperate to move him and, possibly, allow them to hunt for a better deal.
The big question is trying to determine Butler’s value. Few doubt him as one of the top-20 players in the NBA, but he’s at a position (shooting guard) that isn’t a premium spot. On top of that, he’s not a great three-point shooter, and the wear and tear on his body certainly raises some concerns. He’s a terrific player, but as we saw when the Bulls dealt him last summer, the value in return for Butler was far less than what most fans and media had expected. Now, he’s got only one year left on his deal and may not re-sign with your team if you aren’t on his shortlist, which only further hurts his value.
Beyond that, we don’t know exactly what the Wolves want. Theoretically, they’d be wise to look in the direction Indiana went last year with Paul George, trying to find a young starter that has star potential if put into the right spot. However, Thibs might see this as a last gasp effort to save himself and look for a more immediate fix than one that would benefit this young Minnesota core in the future, since he might not be there to reap those benefits if things don’t go well this season.
We’ll start with the three teams on Butler’s list and work from there, trying to find the best trade packages that seem reasonable for Butler based off the value the Bulls got for him last year and the Pacers got for Paul George in a similar situation.