Nets among Jimmy Butler's preferred destinations
A star wants to play in Brooklyn.
Four-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Timberwolves and Brooklyn is one of his three preferred destinations. Butler listed the Nets, Knicks and Clippers as the teams he would potentially sign an extension with.
Butler has been intrigued by the possibility of teaming with another star. The Nets and Clippers will both have room for two max contracts next offseason.
Brooklyn has been linked to the shooting guard as a potential suitor in free agency since the July 6th Dwight Howard trade that cleared nearly $70 million in cap space for the summer of 2019.
Butler turned 29 on September 14th and is his heading into his eighth NBA season. The disgruntled shooting guard had a tumultuous first season in Minnesota after being traded by the Bulls, along with Justin Patton, for Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen.
There were numerous reports of rifts between Butler and younger players on the Timberwolves such as Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Despite this, Butler still averaged 22.2 PPG, 4.9 APG, and 5.3 RPG.
The Nets made Butler's list, but what would Sean Marks be willing to trade for a player he could potentially sign in free agency next offseason?
Minnesota is unlikely to receive a hefty return for a soon-to-be free agent. Denver's 2019 first-round pick, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeMarre Carroll all remain viable trade candidates.
Hollis-Jefferson had the best season of his career last year, but he will be a restricted free agent next offseason and is not the best fit in Kenny Atkinson's pace and space offense. The 23-year-old is a below average three-point shooter and is undersized at power forward.
These factors, coupled with the considerable price likely necessary to extend Hollis-Jefferson, make him a practical trade candidate.
Dinwiddie had a breakout season last year, finishing third in the voting for most improved player. The 25-year-old is set to make just over $1.5 million this season, making his contract among the best bargains in the league.
Would a package of Hollis-Jefferson, Dinwiddie, and the Denver pick be enough to pry Butler from Tom Thibodeau?
Brooklyn also has five second-round picks in the next three drafts that could be offered as a sweetener in any deal.
Minnesota could also be interested in D'Angelo Russell. The trio of Russell, Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns would give the Timberwolves a very talented core of players all under the age of 24.
The appeal of trading for Butler lies with the 2019 free agent class. Brooklyn has room for two max contracts. There have been rumors that Butler and Kyrie Irving would like to play together in the Eastern Conference, so trading for Butler may put Brooklyn in the lead of the Irving sweepstakes next summer. Irving, a New Jersey native, grew up a Nets fan during the Jason Kidd era.
Butler would be eligible to sign a five-year, $190 million deal during this season and a four-year, $140 million deal in free agency next offseason.
Marks and Atkinson have been adamant that the Nets will not skip steps in their rebuild. Trading for a 29-year-old Butler and paying him $190 million until he's 34 may fall under the category of skipping steps. The Nets have been down the road of trading for aging, overpaid stars, and it did not end well.
Any trade by Marks would likely come under the impression that Butler would attract a marquee free agent such as Kyrie Irving. If the Nets front office is confident in that philosophy, they may be willing to open their pockets a bit more to get Butler in a Nets uniform this season.
Despite Butler's request, the Minnesota front office has shut down all inquiries toward Butler and are saying they intend to keep him. However, this could all change as the season gets closer.
Whether Butler ends up with the Nets or not, the sheer fact that a superstar chose Brooklyn as a place he would like to play is a testament to the job Sean Marks has done in Brooklyn.
Marks has shown poise and moxie throughout his time as the Nets' general manager. He will now be faced with one of the most difficult decisions of his front office career as he begins the next phase of the Brooklyn rebuild.