Jimmy Butler trade talks are ongoing in Minnesota, despite Tom Thibodeau’s best efforts to keep the star guard in town. Thibodeau met with Butler on Monday night in his latest attempt to smooth things over and convince Butler to rejoin the team during training camp, but that request was met with Butler again declining.
We’ve heard rumors involving more than a third of the league when it comes to Butler. Some, like the Miami Heat, have had stronger reported interest than others, while a team like the Cleveland Cavaliers may have interest but difficulty making a palatable trade package — not to mention J.R. Smith being adamant about not going to “no damn Minnesota.”
For teams like the Cavs that may need help sweetening the pot for Minnesota by taking on a bad contract, the Sacramento Kings are here to offer a helping hand. The Kings have $11 million in cap space right now and plenty of expiring contracts that could allow them to take on a significant chunk of change, if they are compensated for their services.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojnarowski, Sacramento has been aggressive in contacting the Timberwolves and interested teams in an effort to pull in a first-round pick in exchange for eating an undesirable contract.
In recent days, Sacramento has been aggressive in courting Minnesota and several of Butler’s trade suitors — offering to use its space as a landing spot for bloated contracts. The Kings are without their first-round draft pick in 2019 and uniquely positioned to leverage that cap space into, at a minimum, a future first-round pick and maybe more as part of a Butler blockbuster. The Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers and Miami Heat all have contracts that they would love to unload, and a Butler deal could mean that they deliver Sacramento a pick and cash to take on a veteran player.
The Heat, in particular, make a lot of sense to want to use the Kings as a landing spot for one of their bloated contracts. Miami’s cap sheet is something of a disaster for the foreseeable future, and if they could land Butler and unload one of their bigger contracts on the Kings along with a first rounder, that would likely feel like a win for Pat Riley and company. Sacramento is without its 2019 first rounder, so it makes sense that they, in the midst of a rebuild, would be willing to make such a move provided they get into the first round of this year’s draft.
Even with the Kings offering their services in facilitating a deal, it seems internal strife in Minnesota’s front office is keeping a deal from getting done in the immediate future. Once that’s resolved, one way or another, don’t be surprised to see Sacramento involved, but not to directly land Butler.