Unless Tom Thibodeau plugs his fingers in his ears and goes “la la la la la” for the next few months, Jimmy Butler is going to be on a new NBA team sometime soon. As for where he’s going, well, that’s still up in the air — Butler reportedly wants to head to the Clippers, Knicks, or Nets, but his top priority is finding a way to go to Los Angeles.
Here’s the thing: The Timberwolves don’t have to do this. Butler has no provisions in his contract that would give him the leverage to say “this doesn’t work for me,” meaning Minnesota can do whatever this wants. (Perhaps this is why reports keep coming out about Butler’s desire to play on the Clippers above everywhere else, but I digress.)
This got us wondering what would happen if every NBA team got their brain trusts together to weigh a potential move for Butler. It’s not every day that a player of his caliber hits the trade market, and in one way or another, every team can benefit from adding him to their rosters. However, basketball is a land of contrasts, so there are also a whole lot of reasons that teams shouldn’t go for broke and try to bring in a 29-year-old on the final year of their contract and a whole lot of miles on their wheels.
We decided to go through every NBA team — save for the Timberwolves, of course — and determined the pros and cons of them making a move for Butler. Some teams would become title contenders, some would accelerate rebuilds, and some would just acquire Butler with the hopes of getting a head start on free agency next summer.
PRO: Butler would immediately give the Hawks a leader and an alpha dog, and pairing him with Trae Young would accelerate the timetable that Atlanta finds itself on with its current rebuild.
CON: The Hawks seem like they’re committed to a rebuild based around the ability to stretch the floor, a la Golden State. Butler wouldn’t really fit into either of those criteria.
PRO: Putting Butler, Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and whatever combination of Gordon Hayward and young players (whomever doesn’t get traded among Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, and Jayson Tatum) on the floor makes Boston the favorite to win the East.
CON: Can Butler be a No. 1 option in Boston, which he wants? And do the Celtics want to risk losing both Butler and Irving next offseason? The answer to both is probably yes, to one extent or another, but it’s worth asking.
PRO: Butler wants to go there, and it’s not like the Nets are expected to do much this year. Get him, let him fall in love with Brooklyn, and when the clock hits midnight on July 1, 2019, have him put pen to paper on an extension.
CON: If the Nets have a shot at Butler next summer, why make a move for him now? Why not show this season why he should come to Brooklyn then put on the full-court press for himself and Kyrie Irving?
PRO: I had not considered how much fun a Kemba Walker-Jimmy Butler pairing would be until right now, and my goodness, that would be a blast. Charlotte needs some type of shot in the arm, whether it’s swinging for the fences or pressing the reset button. Butler gives them the former.
CON: Remember the “do the Celtics want to risk losing both Butler and Irving next offseason?” That, but with Butler and Walker. Only Boston could survive losing both of those dudes, while Charlotte would be stuck in the NBA wilderness.
PRO: Pairing Butler with Chicago’s young core would make the Bulls a gigantic pain in the neck. I am going to stop acting like this will ever happen, though.
CON: Jimmy Butler is not going back to Chicago.