Following the 2016 NBA Draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves were looked as the next big thing in the NBA. With 20-year-old Karl-Anthony Towns, 21-year-old Andrew Wiggins, 21-year-old Zach Lavine, and newly drafted 22-year-old Kris Dunn, the Timberwolves were ready to take the NBA by storm.
Unfortunately, the Wolves disappointed and finished with a measly 31 wins in the 2016/17 season, landing them the seventh overall pick. Minnesota wasn’t messing around with youth anymore, however. They needed an immediate fix, and luckily Jimmy Butler became available. The Wolves sent the Bulls, Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and seventh pick for Butler and the 16th pick, which appeared to be a huge steal for the Wolves.
One year later, we all realize that we were wrong. Kris Dunn broke out to be a great point guard with the Bulls. Despite Zach Lavine’s injury history, he was very impressive in limited games. Lauri Markannen who was selected seventh appears to be a generational talent for Chicago. Minnesota got a Jimmy Butler rental, as Butler is now “fed up” with the youth on the Wolves’ roster, and declined a four year, 110 million dollar contract to remain in Minnesota.
At this point, Minnesota would be stupid to keep Butler around, so let’s take a look at a couple potential offers they could field for the four-time all-star.
Jimmy Butler to the New York Knicks
Timberwolves Receive: Frank Ntilikina, Courtney Lee, Isaiah Hicks, 2019 First Round Pick
Knicks Receive: Jimmy Butler
The most rumored of the destinations for Jimmy Butler is the New York Knicks, that are apparently aiming to acquire Kyrie Irving as well. I don’t entirely understand why Kyrie would consider leaving Boston, but if his and Jimmy’s friendship is really that strong, then be my guest to leave potentially the best team in the NBA.
The Timberwolves receive a younger guy to replace Butler in Ntilikina, another young asset in Isaiah Hicks, a one-year rental of Courtney Lee who could actually make a positive impact in Minnesota, along with a first. It’s a no-brainer for each side, especially if the Knicks believe Butler will get them closer to Kyrie.
Jimmy Butler to the San Antonio Spurs
Timberwolves Receive: Brandon Ingram (Lakers), Luol Deng (Lakers), 2019 First Round Pick (Lakers), 2022 First Round Pick (Lakers)
Spurs Receive: Jimmy Butler (Timberwolves)
Lakers Receive: Kawhi Leonard (Spurs)
At this rate, I’m not even sure the Lakers are still interested in Kawhi, but if they are, here’s their perfect opportunity. Gregg Popovich likely isn’t interested in a rebuild as he’s 69 years old himself, so, replace your star with a guy who plays a similar playstyle so there won’t be a huge learning curve for the rest of the roster.
In return, the Timberwolves get to create a new identity around Brandon Ingram and Karl-Anthony Towns while also acquiring two first-round picks in return for taking on the contract of Luol Deng. Following the trade, the Lakers have even more cap space to play with in this free agency so Carmelo Anthony could become an option if bought out.
Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers
Timberwolves Receive: Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington, Furkan Korkmaz, 2020 First Round Pick
76ers Receive: Jimmy Butler
Brett Brown said following the draft that the 76ers were “star hunting,” so let’s see how true that is now that a star is available. By no means is Jimmy a number one option, but he’ll get to equally share the spotlight with two rising stars in Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid instead of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns (a noticeable upgrade).
The Wolves in return get a slew of roleplayers in the backcourt to complement their current roster. Who knows? Maybe Wiggins and Towns are capable of leading a team themselves with the right guys around them, and if there is a right guy, it might be Robert Covington.
Jimmy Butler to the Oklahoma City Thunder
Timberwolves Receive: Carmelo Anthony, Dakari Johnson, 2019 First Round Pick
Thunder Receive: Jimmy Butler, Gorgui Dieng
There’s a lot going on here, I know. Maybe OK3 could still work, just with a different third member. Russell Westbrook, Jimmy Butler, and Paul George all have something major to prove next season and could actually fit fairly well together in Oklahoma City. While Gorgui Dieng may appear as a salary dump, he could also provide scoring off of the bench in the role Enes Kanter once played as the Thunder are lacking scoring in the frontcourt at the moment.
This would be a complete last resort for Minnesota. If Jimmy ends up saying something stupid about how he’s only willing to play for one team so his value plummets like George’s did last season, the Timberwolves could manage a first-round pick from an unproven team along with a salary dump of Gorgui Dieng. Yes, they would have to take on Melo’s contract, but a buyout would certainly be in the works shortly after.