Jimmy Butler’s much-ballyhooed meeting with Tom Thibodeau finally happened on Tuesday, and, well, it’s safe to say it didn’t go all that well for the Timberwolves:
Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Butler has given Minnesota a list of one-to-three teams with whom he's open to signing extension, in anticipation of trade.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 19, 2018
Butler and Thibodeau met on Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss his situation, according to multiple sources. Over the last several weeks, Butler began to seriously contemplate his future with the team and a potential trade request, league sources said. It was in that meeting that Butler expressed a desire to be traded, telling Thibodeau that he does not intend to sign a long-term extension with the Wolves next summer. He has provided a list of one to three teams with which he would be open to signing a long-term deal, sources said.
Three teams, you say? I’ll give you one guess as to what orange and blue team made the cut:
Minnesota's Jimmy Butler has three preferred destinations for a trade, league sources tell ESPN: The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Those three teams have max cap space to sign Butler as a free agent in July.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 19, 2018
It will be interesting to see how the Knicks handle this new information, just two days after they emphatically stated during a town hall broadcast that they would not be looking to trade any assets for a star anytime soon.
Worth noting on Jimmy Butler: Knicks president Steve Mills said at a fan event on Monday that the Knicks will not trade assets for players that they feel they can sign in free agency: https://t.co/QVqQ23vVxQ— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) September 19, 2018
Potential deals would have to include some combination of Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee and/or Joakim Noah to match up to Butler’s roughly $20 million salary. Moving any of those multi-year contracts and replacing it with Butler’s would clear a big hurdle in the pipe dream of adding a second max-level star (probably Kyrie Irving) in free agency next summer.
The interesting thing here will be when the Knicks’ offer eventually comes out (whether they get Butler or not, offers tend to come to light after a player’s been traded) and we figure out just how much they were willing to part with to get a player of Butler’s caliber. They’d be foolish to not at least submit a low-ball offer, but almost equally foolish to offer any legitimate assets like a first-round pick or one of their more promising young players like Frank Ntilikina or Kevin Knox for a player that will be a free agent at the end of the year in a stacked free agent class.
Time will tell, but for now, get that trade machine cookin’.