The latest Brooklyn Nets rumors are franchise-altering, as Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler has requested a trade and put the Nets on his short list.
The Brooklyn Nets rumors had been linked to Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler earlier this offseason, as talk circulated a couple of times during the summer that Butler and Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving were discussing joining forces in the Eastern Conference.
Butler’s arrival in Brooklyn might happen sooner than that.
On Wednesday, Butler reportedly requested a trade from the Timberwolves and presented the Minnesota with a short list of preferred destinations where he would be open to signing an extension, per Jon Krawcynski of The Athletic.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN later reported those three preferred destinations include the Los Angeles Clippers and both New York teams, the New York Knicks and the Nets.
According to the reports, Butler met with Minnesota team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau on Wednesday and told Thibodeau he doesn’t want to start the season with the Wolves.
Instead, he prefers to go to a team that has the necessary cap space to re-sign him to a five-year max extension that could be worth as much as $190 million.
Wojnarowski, citing sources, said Butler could expand his list based on the willingness of the Timberwolves and other teams to negotiate a trade.
The Knicks may not be interested in trading for Butler, based on statements made by general manager Steve Mills on Monday.
"“We’re going to build this team the right way. What we’re not going to do is trade away assets to get a [free agent] that we can go get on our own later.”"
The Timberwolves gave up considerable assets during the 2017 NBA Draft to reunite Butler with Thibodeau, his long-time coach with the Chicago Bulls, trading away Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the rights to 2017 No. 7 overall pick Lauri Markkanen.
That’s three lottery picks from a four-year period taken by Minnesota, with LaVine going 13th overall in 2014 and Dunn selected with the fifth overall pick in 2016.
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The Nets have been able to hoard cap space for the summer of 2019, but are still a bit thin on future first-round draft picks — likely to be necessary to wrest Butler away from the Timberwolves.
The Nets have their own first-round picks through 2026 and picked up a protected first-rounder from the Denver Nuggets in a July trade that will convey if it is outside of the top 12 at any point from 2019-24. At that point, it becomes second-round picks in 2024 and 2025.
What the Nets do have to offer in a potential trade is a collection of second-round picks that includes:
- 2019 from New York via Philadelphia
- 2019 from Indiana (protected 45-60 through 2022, unprotected in 2023)
- 2020 from Portland via Cleveland and Atlanta (top 55 protected)
- 2020 from Denver
- 2021 from Phoenix (top 35 protected)
- 2023 Charlotte via Atlanta or Atlanta (Hawks have option to swap with Nets)
Brooklyn also has Spencer Dinwiddie, coming off a breakout season and on an expiring contract, or the Nets could up the ante by dangling D’Angelo Russell, a free-agent-to-be who could be both younger and an upgrade over current starter Jeff Teague.
Other expiring deals the Nets could potentially offer to the Timberwolves, who are negotiating with All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns on a max extension, are DeMarre Carroll, Kenneth Faried and Jared Dudley, as well as Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, entering the final year of his rookie deal.
Getting a deal done theoretically is one thing. Actually making the trade could be a complicated affair, particularly since Thibodeau reportedly is not interested in making a deal to move Butler.
Butler has a $19.8 million player option for 2019-20 that he is likely to decline in order to become a free agent, unless he can secure the trade he is seeking to a team that can offer him a five-year max extension.
If Butler reaches free agency, Minnesota could still re-sign him at five years and $190 million using its full Bird rights, but any other team would be limited to an offer of four years and $141 million.