Jimmy Butler is a hot commodity at the moment. He’s got many teams interested in him. But Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau has something to say about that. Thibodeau is notorious for keeping his players together. He even goes as far as to pick up guys he’s coached in the past and bring them in. needless to say, he’s very loyal to his players and doesn’t let them go easily. But Butler is highly sought after so the question remains if Thibodeau can keep him around.
Many teams have their eyes on Butler but only three have piqued his interest: the LA Clippers, the Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Knicks. The trouble is that Butler is not the type to go cheaply. The Timberwolves appear to be in a position to offer their star the maximum five-year contract of $190 million. So it seems unlikely that Butler would think of leaving for another team unless they could shell out the same kind of money.
Of course, it’s not that simple for another organization. Not only would they have to give Butler the assurance of his maximum contract, they would have to make the Timberwolves an attractive offer. So the question is, which team can afford $190 million over five years as well as giving up a player or two in a major trade?
Is It Worth It To Trade For Butler?
At age 29, Butler is no longer young by NBA standards. With his history of knee issues he’s not exactly the most attractive addition to a team, despite his enormous skill and track record. There’s also the issue of Butler having conflict with the last two organizations he played for.
While Butler may be a top 10 player in the NBA right now, the group of teams thinking about trading for him have a lot to consider. Do they really want to sign a 29-year-old for five seasons, for almost $40 million a season, when it’s possible he might get injured again? That’s a lot of money to pay for a guy whose health has been in question in the past.
The Timberwolves Have Their Own Worries
Head coach Tom Thibodeau has a ferocious desire to win. This can sometimes class with the front office. As a coach, Thibodeau is thinking of the next game, trying to string together a season that could lead to a playoff run. The higher ups in the Timberwolves organization have to think further ahead. If they keep Butler for the 2018/2019 season they risk losing him next summer when his contract is up. If this happens, they won’t get anything in return for him. So it might be more prudent to trade him now.
But this is looking at it from the long-term perspective. Thibodeau merely wants to win basketball games and Butler can help him do that. But ultimately it isn’t up to Thibodeau. Glen Taylor, the owner of the Minnesota Timberwolves, has the final say. So far he hasn’t stepped in and made a decision. So Butler has remained where he is largely due to Thibodeau’s influence.
It’s key for teams to make sure that they do not lose something for nothing. The Timberwolves don’t necessarily need to make the trade of the century to get rid of Butler. They can simply get something in return for him, perhaps in the form of draft picks or a few middle-of-the-road players. But to get nothing for Butler would be a waste for Minnesota. The only reason it would benefit the Timberwolves to have Butler off their hands is if he gets injured again or his performance starts to drop. But barring these two unknowable changes, the fact remains that Butler is a major bargaining chip for Minnesota, one that they would be silly to misuse.
Should The Timberwolves Simply Quit While They’re Ahead?
Butler has performed well for Minnesota but he hasn’t brought them the success that every team strives for. This of course is something that no manager can know before he makes a trade. Every trade is a gamble and some pay off more than others. But it might be foolish to keep pushing forward with Butler when he has not been the magic ingredient that the team needs.
The Timberwolves would also be smart to avoid the last two years of Butler’s impending five-year $190 million contract. There’s no way of knowing what Butler might still be able to do on the court in three more seasons. So it’s possible the Timberwolves could end up with an aging player, contributing less and less, but getting paid the same staggering $40 million each year. The Timberwolves might be better served by building their roster with younger players than holding on to aging talent.
So What Are We Likely To See Happen With Butler?
Since Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has been patient so far, there’s no reason to believe he would change his tune. So that means it is up to Thibodeau to figure this whole mess out. And for Thibodeau the most important thing is winning this season. So the question becomes, which team can offer the Timberwolves the best deal to help them be successful?
The Clippers seem to have the upper hand in deal making so far. The LA is able to offer the Timberwolves a slew of young players that could build up their team for the future. Watch closely, because the Timberwolves can’t stay in limbo over Butler forever.