The Minnesota Timberwolves have frustrated more than half of the league by now after teams have inquired about four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler. Yet part of it has to do with the minimal leverage this small market team has when engaging in talks with suitors, considering the three teams atop his original shortlist, all have room to sign him as a free agent.
“The Timberwolves would be lucky to get 50 cents on the dollar in return for Jimmy Butler,” an NBA executive told ESPN, according to front office insider Bobby Marks.
The L.A. Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and the New York Knicks (Butler’s three original teams of preference) all have room to sign him to a lucrative five-year deal as a free agent, but it would come with the savings of $50 million over the course of the contract, as well as saving future assets.
The Miami Heat, who recently jumped atop the race for the two-way superstar, doesn’t have the cap space to give Butler that hefty deal, making trading for him a necessity.
Any inquiring team would offer much less than what Butler is worth, knowing the Timberwolves must get rid of him as soon as possible, given the sensitive nature of building chemistry in training camp and his refusal to rejoin the team.
Minnesota is reportedly looking for quality veterans, future assets, draft picks, and the willingness to take on a bloated contract as conditions to trading Butler — conditions that could be met in different circumstances, but not when there is zero leverage to make the deal happen.
This high of an asking price has frustrated teams, who are now skeptical of Tom Thibodeau’s desire to trade Butler, given his hard stance and seeking that unreasonable of a compensation for a player that flat out has refused to ever wear a Wolves jersey again.