A New Wrinkle Has Been Added to the Jimmy Butler Saga

The Jimmy Butler Saga continues, as the Minnesota Timberwolves look to move the All-Star wing before the season begins. He was the latest NBA player to shake the sports world with a trade demand, and in doing so, extra spice was added to an already eventful offseason.

First, there was the season-long speculation of where LeBron James would sign in free agency. But before that decision, Kawhi Leonard took the attention by demanding a trade, with Los Angeles as his top preference. Then Paul George decides to stay with Oklahoma City, and right after that, LeBron announced that he would be taking his talent to Hollywood to join the purple and gold and resurrect the league’s premier franchise. And then, Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Atlanta Hawks and bought out, making him a free agent, eventually signing with the Houston Rockets.

And finally (for now) Jimmy Butler demanded a trade. There was some foreshadowing during the summer, with reports of his frustration with the team, primarily the younger teammates—Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. He didn’t appreciate their work ethic and passion, or lack thereof. And after the news of a trade demand came out, Wiggins’ brother took what appeared to be a shot at Butler.

This further fueled the belief that there was a rift between Wiggins and Butler. The rumors are that Butler has a problem with the 23-year-old because Wiggins doesn’t have the passion or toughness the veteran likes. There is a belief that Wiggins plays mainly for the money, and nothing more; thus the passiveness holding him back from stardom. He doesn’t have the hunger to get better, which shows why he is a liability on defense, because a large part of the game’s aspect is the effort.

Even with all the drama, President and head coach Tom Thibodeau still wanted to keep Butler and tried his best to keep him, which led to reports that the T-Wolves were not willing to move him. But then the franchise’s owner, Glen Taylor, made it known that Minnesota is open for business and wants to move the All-Star ASAP. And to no one’s surprise, Butler skipped the Timberwolves’ Media Day.

At the time, the reports were that Butler’s three top preferred destinations were the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers, all losing franchises with not much track record of success and all below-average teams at the moment. So, the biggest takeaway is that he wants to go to a big market; and that’s not surprising, as they are attractive.

I can understand the New York Knicks, even with all their dysfunction over the years. They have had a recent overhaul in the front office, lots of cap space, Kristaps Porzingis, and being a marquee franchise in a marquee city.

However, the Nets and Clippers? They are two of the “JV” teams in their respective cities and are historical losers who are not in a great spot for any chance of winning anytime soon. There’s no young elite talent either, and all they have next summer is cap space. But the common belief is that the Clippers are his preferred destination from the three because the Lakers went off the board after LeBron James signed there.

So he wants to be in a big market and wants to be the guy. That won’t get him a title because he’s not an elite superstar, but at least he will be happy.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have checked in on him, but Butler threw us all a curveball, with news of a change in heart on his destination.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Heat have been interested in the small forward but, according to Spotrac, they do not have cap space to sign him as a free agent next summer, so the news of mutual interest is the best they could have heard. If a deal were to be struck, one would assume that either Hassan Whiteside or Goran Dragic would be the significant piece going back to match salaries. If Dragic were to be the piece, then Jeff Teague would be expendable, unless the Wolves immediately flip him.

Now you have to wonder whether the Clippers, Nets, and Knicks will be scared of trading for him. They were all in the driver’s seat but are off the road now. Is Butler still willing to sign with any of the original three, even with Miami as the reported favorite? Or will we have a dark-horse pull off a surprise move like the Oklahoma Thunder did with Paul George and the Toronto Raptors did with Kawhi Leonard? It’s something to keep an eye on, as the Jimmy Butler Sweepstakes are just hitting their steam and promises to get more exciting.

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