The Cleveland Cavaliers could have a shot at landing Jimmy Butler this season. The Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard has been vocal about his desire for a trade. Butler has reportedly named the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers as his preferred landing spots.
After a reunion with his former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, Butler has no interest committing to a long term deal with the team. The nonchalant attitude of Karl-Anthony Towns and other members of the team’s core have irritated Butler. A deal with the Cavs could be the best move for both teams.
None of the three teams Butler listed would really be able to help the Timberwolves. The Knicks are not willing to trade young stars like Kevin Knox or Kristaps Porzingis, the Nets finished 12th in the Eastern Conference last year and the Clippers don’t have any potential All-Stars on their roster. Meanwhile, the Cavs have a host of young players that could be contribute to the long term success of the Timberwolves.
Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists on a team stacked with athletic wing players last year. He managed to sustain his All-Star status, making it difficult for the Timberwolves to acquire any player as good as him in a trade. Even with him, the team barely made the playoffs.
They lost in the first round to the Golden State Warriors. To make matter worse, the Warriors have gotten even better this year by adding All-Star Center DeMarcus Cousins. The Los Angeles Lakers will probably emerge onto the playoff scene with the arrival of LeBron James. If they keep Butler for the entirety of this season, they may still find themselves outside of the playoff picture.
Right now, the Timberwolves need to build for further down the road. Theoretically, they could ship Butler, Jeff Teague and the young center Justin Patton to the Cavs for Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic and George Hill. The Timberwolves could secure their All-Star point guard of the future, a promising wing player in Osman, a veteran guard and a young frontcourt player with plenty of upside.
They could also avoid playing against Butler by sending him to the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Cavs would upgrade their point guard spot with a veteran that’s ready to play now, clear some cap space by getting rid of Hill and secure the talents of an All-Star to pair with Kevin Love.
It’s no secret the Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving have been searching for a way to play together. Irving will be a free agent in 2019, and is unsure about his future with the Boston Celtics. The only reason he left Cleveland in the first place was to avoid playing second fiddle to LeBron James. Now that he’s out of the picture, Irving could make his own return to the Cavs. This would give the Cavs three All-Stars on their roster for the 2019-20 season. Not too shabby.
There’s plenty of risk associated with this trade. There’s no guarantee that Irving would want to return to Cleveland, regardless of his relationship with Butler. However, if it does pan out, the Cavs could have a title-contending team in the next year.