Everett: Clippers might be just the right fit for Butler
Joe Everett | Thursday, September 20, 2018
On Tuesday league sources first notified The Athletic that Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler met with head coach Tom Thibodeau in Los Angeles and requested a trade before his final contract season with the T-Wolves.
Well alright then.
The news comes less than a week before training camp, so obviously it’s less than ideal for the Timberwolves, whose team chemistry was already beginning to splinter thanks to an increasingly hostile relationship between Butler and fellow star teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, whose work ethic Butler notably took issue with. This puts Butler and the Timberwolves in a similar situation to Kawhi Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs, and we all know how that situation eventually unfolded. This situation is obviously a major distraction for Minnesota, so could we see a major trade for Butler right before the season begins?
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Butler has three preferred destinations for a trade: the Brooklyn Nets, the New York Knicks or the Los Angeles Clippers, whom sources say Butler is most determined to get to. All three teams will have enough cap space to wait a year and sign him to a max contract next summer, but that’s risky. Here’s the argument for why each of those three teams should trade the star small forward, and conversely why Butler would want to go there.
Los Angeles Clippers
This one makes a lot of sense to me. The Clippers have officially moved on from their “Lob City” era now that DeAndre Jordan is in Dallas, and the roster lacks a bonafide star. Center Marcin Gortat, small forward Tobias Harris, point guards Patrick Beverley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and shooting guards Lou Williams and Avery Bradley are all nice pieces, but none pose the two-way threat that Butler does. Harris and Gilgeous-Alexander for Butler? I think the Wolves would take that return in a heartbeat, and the Clippers would be willing to give up those pieces in return for a star that will attract other stars to the City of Angels.
That last part is key. Kawhi Leonard has stated he would gladly play for the Clippers next season, and with Butler already there the chances the Clippers persuade him to sign and join forces dramatically increase.
Plus, from Butler’s perspective, going to Los Angeles would be ideal. He’d be a big name in a big market that would be the face of the franchise for at least a year. Plus, the team as currently constructed fits Butler’s tough-nosed, defensive personality. Beverley, Bradley, Butler and small forward Luc Mbah a Moute on the same team? Good luck scoring against the Clippers.
New York Knicks
Bit of a similar argument to the Clippers hypothetical. This is all about being a big name in a big market with the ability to attract similar high-end talent. Butler has said he wants to play with another elite talent, which the Knicks certainly have in center Kristaps Porzingis. Additionally, Kyrie Irving has been rumored to be contemplating a move to the Big Apple, so the combination of Butler and Porzingis would be an attractive landing spot for the star point guard. A trade package including a combination of Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee or even Kevin Knox would be attractive to the Timberwolves.
Brooklyn has loads of cap space some tradable assets, but let’s face it, I wouldn’t go to the Nets.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.