The NBA offseason rumor mill got a kick start this week when news broke that Minnesota Timberwolves star forward Jimmy Butler has requested a trade. Reports are that the Clippers are the leading candidate, followed by the Nets and Knicks. However, there are some rumblings that the Miami Heat could sneak in at the eleventh hour and make a push for Butler.
With only one year along with a player option remaining on his current contract, the price for what could be a short term acquisition may be steep. The aforementioned teams have been reported to be on the list of preferred destinations for Butler, but Minnesota will surely listen to any and all reasonable offers. That being said, the Heat do have several appealing assets that could pique the interest of the Wolves.
Many hypothetical trades have included both Kelly Olynyk and a future first round pick, but that won’t be enough. Minnesota will want a young wing to try and replicate some of the two-way excellence that Butler brings to the table. Salary going back to Minnesota will be considerable to offset the price of taking on Butler’s remaining 20.4M dollars due this year. Another dynamic to be considered are that Butler and Dwyane Wade are good friends, perhaps Father Prime could do a little recruiting. One knock on Butler has been his interaction with teammates, with Wade that will not be an issue.
There is a clear hierarchy with the Heat, established by Wade and Udonis Haslem. Butler will learn quickly that the Heat Culture holds the trump cards, check your ego at the door Jimmy Buckets.
Ok, with all that being said we’ve done some research. Here are some scenarios that could potentially work for both sides.
Heat receive: Jimmy Butler
Timberwolves receive: Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, future first round pick
This has been a popular trade being floated out there, the contracts align very well. Butler would likely start at small forward, a potential lineup could feature Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, James Johnson, and Hassan Whiteside. If the Heat were to go small, Butler could run with Bam Adebayo at center along with Justise Winslow, TJ, and Rodney McGruder/Wayne Ellington at the two. Butler’s ability to guard multiple positions on the wing gives Erik Spoelstra many lineup combinations to explore.
Richardson made tremendous strides last year, and is becoming one of the better two-way wings in the league. He can create his own shot and is durable, the latter being a real commodity due to the numerous injuries endured by the Heat at the guard spot in 2017. However, Butler is also a plus defender and has developed into an elite scoring option. They both give you a lot across the stat sheet, however Butler holds a substantial edge in offensive productivity. Richardson could become an above average scorer, but not likely approaching Butler’s level.
Heat receive: Butler. PG Tyus Jones
TImberwolves receive: Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow, future first round pick
In this deal, Jones becomes a throw-in simply to bring back some ball handling. Tyler Johnson struggles at times to set up the offense and has issues with above average defenders crowding him. Pairing him with Dion Waiters at the two could help alleviate some of the ball handling responsibilities, and Butler is more than capable of running the offense as well. This trade also keeps Olynyk, an important component to maintain spacing.
Fans would hate to lose Dragic, but to lure in an elite talent like Butler that could be the price to pay. Coming off an All-Star campaign, it could be a palatable move to sell high on Dragic. The jury is still out on Winslow, he has shown flashes of real potential. Again, the Heat must way potential versus proven commodities and Butler brings back a solid track record.
Heat receive: Butler
Timberwolves receive: Tyler Johnson, Bam Adebayo
This is a deal that could make Heat Nation laugh and cry simultaneously. Losing the bloated carcass that is Johnson’s contract (2yrs/19.4M per) would have Andy Elisburg smiling. Losing Adebayo could come back to haunt the Miami Heat, of all the young players mentioned he appears to have the highest ceiling. Possessing incredible athleticism for his size, and combined with the ability to switch from high to low are rare assets. He could easily become the best rebounder on the team, and put up 15 and 11 consistently with some improved low post and mid-range game. Adebayo is still a raw prospect, more so than Winslow simply due to his experience at this level. His skill set would be the most difficult to replace right away, and he is still under team control for three more seasons.