The veteran player’s trade demand has reverberated around the basketball world sending the Timberwolves to the top of daily talk even in the midst of an offseason full of surprises.
Even after LeBron James moved to Los Angeles Lakers, Kawhi Leonard got shipped to Toronto Raptors and DeMar DeRozan took his place, Butler and Minnesota had a lot of chatter comes its way. Of course, this couldn’t have stood for long had the brother of teammate Andrew Wiggins not clashed with Butler on social media.
About to play the first of a five year deal worth $148 million, scrutiny is high on Wiggins ability to deliver. Karl-Anthony Towns mega five year, $190 million extension deal generated enough buzz on its own especially given the complexities of the contract.
Should Towns fail to make another All NBA Team or win the Defensive Player Award or Most Valuable Player Award, the contract’s value drops to $150 million. Looking at the level of interest from teams, it is strange Butler remains on Minnesota’s roster with just a week left for the season to begin.
It has emerged Timberwolves asking price in a trade for Butler is too high and is the main reason preventing the trade from going through. It is reported, Minnesota asked for Ben Simmons in a proposed deal with Philadelphia Sixers. With New York Knicks interested in Butler, Kristaps Porzingis involvement in a trade would have certainly been discussed if the Latvian was not seriously injured and likely to miss the entire season.
For a player in the final year of his contract and hell bent on leaving Minnesota, the Timberwolves have created a big problem for themselves by asking too much in return. Butler is far away from committing his future-verbally- to Minnesota like his friend Kyrie Irving who is also playing in the final season on his contract with Boston Celtics did.
One of the many trades they whiffed at involved Miami Heat’s Josh Richardson and a first round draft pick. That offer was the most realistic trade Minnesota was going to get from any interested team since Butler could walk away as a free agent after this season.
Richardson is the closest -25 year old- thing to Butler’s ability produce on both ends of the court. His 6 foot 6 inch frame and wingspan makes him playable in multiple situations guarding Point Guards, Shooting Guards and Small Forwards. Unlike Butler, Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Jeff Teague, Anthony Tolliver and other veterans put together by Coach and Basketball Operations President Tom Thibodeau, Richardson fits rights in with Wiggins and Towns timelines. The old guards are desperate for deep runs in the playoffs but their limited playing careers influences them to make hasty decisions which ultimately hurts the team in the long run.
Cue Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers (in 2010), Minnesota could make terrible decisions-trading away Wiggins for a hungrier player as Butler wants- in the name of winning now. With Richardson, that thought is unlikely as his presence with Wiggins and Towns offers Minnesota’s a chance to follow Golden State Warriors playbook allowing talented draft picks grow organically.
Due to Richardson’s Butler-esque skills, famously stubborn Coach Thibodeau is unlikely to stash him on the bench as he does with many young players. The Heat swingman is entering his fourth season and is quite seasoned in the tough love culture of Miami to make the former Chicago Bulls trainer play him extensively. If there were doubts trading Butler for a young player relating to Thibodeau’s treatment of young players to ward Timberwolves negotiators off, there are none in Richardson’s case.
About to enter his fourth season and extended minutes with Miami, Richardson is a prime Most Improved Player of the Year candidate. By trading Butler, Minnesota will be losing the 2014 winner who has since blossomed into a four time All Star and NBA All Defense Team member. It is hard to fathom Richardson play in the All Star game as his offense is steady but not electrifying and his likely role as the team’s main wing defender should Wiggins continue to struggle on that end.
Regardless what happens moving forward, Jimmy Butler wont stay long in Minnesota but the Timberwolves have made a mistake by not replacing him with a younger version who will stick around for at least four years.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter