Jimmy Butler met with the Minnesota Timberwolves and made clear his preference to be traded.
And while Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau may not be at all happy about it, perhaps some people close with Butler’s current teammates are.
If Andrew Wiggins’ brother, Nick is any indication, the rumors of tension are quite true. But while many Sixers fans would love the addition of Butler, a four-time All-Star from Marquette, the feelings may not be mutual.
The Knicks, Nets and Clippers were the only teams named in the report of places he would be open to resigning with. Simply ignoring a player’s preferences and hoping that maybe a competitive culture could change a player’s mind was the path chosen by Raptors’ GM Masai Ujiri in his recent pursuit of Kawhi Leonard. It’s a comparable situation, but it remains to be seen if brand (I am so sorry) new Sixers’ GM, Elton Brand would feel similarly.
Paying the price it might cost to acquire Butler soon while risking him fleeing to a preferred destination is a big risk. But so is passing up on such a good player and hoping for a different or better one next year. There are potential superstar free agents with K names next July who may be open to joining the Sixers young core (e.g. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, or Kyrie Irving) along with whatever newly disgruntled stars may hit the market before February’s trade deadline.
There is a lot to consider for the Sixers “collaborative” front office.
If one were to read the tea leaves on Butler’s list of teams, it does beg the question of how high winning is on his list of priorities. Many Sixers fans who want him in red, white, and blue have noted that the tension that reportedly brewed between him and his teammates (namely Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins) may have risen from Butler’s competitive spirit and dedication to winning. But he didn’t request to play with the Sixers, Raptors, Bucks, or Lakers, all teams that would have made more sense from that standpoint. So what do we make of this list?
There have been rumors in the past that he might like to play with Kyrie Irving in New York, but the Knicks currently may only have salary cap space for one star next summer, and mentioned recently that they won’t skip steps in their rebuild or part with their most valuable assets.
This happening literally two days after the Knicks say we’re not trading draft picks anymore is amazing— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) September 19, 2018
The Nets would represent a curveball, yet still allow that pairing to happen if they could swing the financial details. Kawhi Leonard was recently linked to the Clippers as a preferred destination as well.
New York and L.A. being the only cities named would make sense if Butler simply preferred a large market, but the Lakers remain conspicuously absent from that list.
Three teams that are kind of a blank slate. https://t.co/nswbCFSMSI— Rich Hofmann (@rich_hofmann) September 19, 2018
So maybe a blank canvass is exactly what he’d like. Perhaps like Irving, who fled Cleveland, reportedly for his own team, Butler has visions of being the star on his own team, or at least playing with a co-star a bit less bright than LeBron James. Or perhaps Butler is attempting to play with someone specific like Kyrie Irving in New York ( a city Irving has roots near) or Kawhi Leonard in L.A. (a city Leonard has roots in). For what it’s worth, Butler is from Tomball, Texas himself.
Wherever this is headed, there is already some valuable intel for Elton Brand and his constituents in Butler’s list, and the way Butler’s soon to be former teammates feel about him. That can help them arrive on a price they’re willing to offer, assuming they’re still interested.