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Report: Jimmy Butler’s agent tells Timberwolves owner the Heat are preferred destination

Nets, Clippers, Heat, Timberwolves, Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler and his agent Bernie Lee have informed the Minnesota Timberwolves ownership that the Miami Heat is his preferred trade destination, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

Despite Butler listing teams like the New York Knicks, the L.A. Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets originally during his meeting with head coach/president Tom Thibodeau, the Heat have pursued Butler as aggressively as any of the 20-plus teams to inquire about him thus far. Like many others, the Heat have found it hard to get the Timberwolves to clearly communicate what they want out of the trade.

Miami is now a team that strongly appeals to Butler after a trade, as he’s set to become a free agent in 2019. Butler had been interested in the Heat from the get-go, according to Anthony Fusaro of ESPN.

The Heat came to the forefront of suitors quite recently, as the Knicks had stayed committed to their decision to not trade assets prior to a big 2019 free agency period.

Miami is facing the same issues as any other team, getting a strange vibe from the front office, which has see-sawed for seven days since the trade request became known.

Thibodeau refused to trade Butler at first, but after some scolding from owner Glen Taylor, he was strongly encouraged to not only take calls inquiring about Butler, but also seek trades out with potential trading partners. That stance only lasted a few days, as Thibodeau wanted an impromptu meeting with Butler as a last-ditch effort to retain him in case a trade didn’t go through.

Butler stood firm in his willingness to get shipped out of Minnesota, ultimately calling Taylor for reassurance that trade talks were still in good faith.

In trading with the Heat, the Timberwolves will surely aim to get swingman Josh Richardson, who has taken a step as one of the best up-and-coming three-and-D talents at the wing position. The Heat will likely resist that offer, which is quite attractive to the Wolves given his friendly contract.

Other possible assets could include dynamic big man Kelly Olynyk and center Bam Adebayo. Miami also owns six of its next seven first-round draft picks (h/t Albert Nahmad), which could come in handy for willing partners like the Sacramento Kings, who are willing to take on some bloated contracts in exchange for draft picks and cash compensation.

The Timberwolves will likely want to get rid of Gorgui Dieng’s contract, who is still owed $48.7 million over the next three seasons. Dieng went from starting all 82 games in 2016-17 and having the best year of his career to playing under Taj Gibson’s shadow last season, seeing no starts in 79 appearances — posting a mere 5.9 points and 4.8 rebounds in 2017-18.