Jimmy Butler is going to get traded soon. Well, probably, unless Tom Thibodeau’s pleas for him to return to the Timberwolves during camp somehow convince him to rescind his trade request.
That seems highly unlikely, particularly considering owner Glen Taylor has apparently stepped in and told the front office to go full speed ahead with trade talks, even going so far as to initiate calls to other teams. The Heat seem like a promising suitor, but it remains to be seen whether Pat Riley is willing to give up enough to satisfy Thibs and the Wolves.
There are a number of other teams in the mix, as more than a third of the league has been rumored to have at least probed the Timberwolves about a potential deal. Among those teams is reportedly the Cleveland Cavaliers, as Taylor and Dan Gilbert have a working relationship going back to the Kevin Love trade in 2014. The Wolves would definitely prefer to send Butler to the East, but it’s hard to figure out what kind of deal the two teams could work out considering Love can’t be dealt right now after signing his extension.
Among the players that make the most sense for matching salary with Butler is J.R. Smith, who is set to make $14.7 million this year with his 2019-20 contract only partially guaranteed. However, Smith isn’t too keen on the idea of going to Minnesota, as he recently told the group of guys with whom he was playing NBA 2K19 as they were getting ready for a game.
“They trying to do a trade for Jimmy Butler? I ain’t going to Minnesota,” Smith says. “They can cancel my ticket for that. They can cancel Christmas for that. I ain’t going to no damn Minnesota. They better make it a three-way trade or something.”
It definitely sounds like J.R., and we did a little digging to make sure this is Smith’s PS4 account and it sure seems like it, given the games this profile plays — almost exclusively NBA 2K as well as Rory McIlroy PGA Tour (Smith loves golf) — and this YouTube video a guy made of him playing with Smith in 2K16.
Video game chats have become a place of refreshing honesty from NBA players, like last year when Ben Simmons told Karl-Anthony Towns he didn’t need to go to bed because the Timberwolves were only playing the Hawks the next day. Smith here says what probably a number of NBA players would like to say when it comes to trade rumors to a less than desirable destination.
The good news for Smith is that it’s not likely he’ll have to worry about this actually happening, but if the Cavs and Wolves do get deep into talks, it’s something for Minnesota to consider.