Jimmy Butler added the Brooklyn Nets to his list of preferred destinations after requesting a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Here are 3 workable deals.
It was big news earlier this week when All-Star Jimmy Butler told Minnesota Timberwolves team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau he wanted to be traded before the 2018-19 season begins.
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For fans of the Brooklyn Nets, it was stunning that Butler included three teams on his short list of preferred landing spots and one of those teams was … the Nets.
The last time, perhaps the only other time, a star player openly expressed a desire to be traded to the Nets was when Dwight Howard made those sounds while trying to get away from the Orlando Magic in 2012.
Howard later changed his mind, exercised his option to remain with the Magic and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers the following offseason.
Butler also listed the Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks, as he wants to go to a team that would be inclined to offer him a max extension that figures to be five years and around $190 million.
There are some concerns with that scenario that must be addressed, however. Butler turned 29 on Sept. 14, so you would be looking at committing to pay something in the neighborhood of $38 million to a player when he’s 34 years old.
And that is for a player that has played 82 games in a season once, in 2012-13 as a reserve with the Chicago Bulls, and a player who had topped the 70-game mark just one other time in his seven-year career, when he logged 76 games for the Bulls in 2016-17.
Yes, Butler has been picked for the last four All-Star games. He’s been named to the All-NBA third team the last two seasons. He is a four time All-Defensive second team selection, including last season.
But he’s also been a high-usage player, not in terms of usage percentage, but just in terms of being on the floor — a lot. Butler has been in the top four in the NBA in minutes per game each of the last five seasons, topping the NBA at 38.7 MPG in 2014-15.
Of the players with the top 20 minutes played totals over the last five seasons, none has played in fewer games than Butler’s 334, logging 12,551 minutes in that time. The leader on the list, James Harden, played 14,381 minutes — 1,830 more than Butler — but he did so in 389 games.
No player in the NBA has averaged more minutes per game over that span than Butler’s 37.6, with Harden second at 37.0.
So you have a player who has still logged more minutes than most players in the league over the last five seasons despite missing 76 games to injury during the same period.
This just in — players seldom get more durable as they age.
That doesn’t address the elephant in the room.
If a player has locker-room problems with one team, moves to another and those problems subside, it’s logical to conclude the issues lay mostly with the old team or players.
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But when a player has locker-room issues with one team, moves to another and has more locker-room strife … . Call me crazy, but that sets off some alarm bells — loud ones — for an organization that has worked so hard over the last two-plus years to create a positive culture.
So, no, Jimmy Butler’s presence in recent seasons has not been synonymous with a unified, harmonious environment around the team.
There is no denying Butler’s talent. He rose from 30th overall draft pick to being named Most Improved Player in 2014-15. He’s been a 20-point-per-game scorer the last three seasons, rebounds well for a wing, can create for teammates and is a defensive stopper.
While Butler may not be a great 3-point shooter (35 percent last season, 33.9 percent for his career), he is a knockdown free-throw shooter who excels in drawing contact and getting to the line. Last season, he shot 85.4 percent on 7.1 attempts per game.
For his career, he’s at 83.2 percent on 6.4 trips a night to the line.
So what can the Brooklyn Nets put together to get Butler? Here are three potential trades that meet the conditions of the collective bargaining agreement rules on trading of players within salary cap guidelines.