The Miami Heat have reportedly emerged as the preferred trade destination for disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler.
According to Marc Stein, the Heat “strongly appeal” to Butler even though they were not included as one of the original three teams he would ideally re-sign with this offseason. ESPN’s Stefan Fusaro, however, noted that Butler has “expressed interest” in Miami since the trade rumors surfaced.
So this leads to the ultimate question: What can the Timberwolves receive to make this deal happen? Minnesota is rumored to want a starting-caliber wing to replace Butler. Wayne Ellington, however, is off the table until December 15 because he signed a new deal this offseason.
Zach Lowe speculated that they would be asked to give young assets in such a trade (via ESPN):
“Minnesota would want Miami’s best stuff. They’d probably ask at first for Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, and Justise Winslow, and I doubt Miami would deal away its entire young core for Butler. Replace one of Adebayo and Winslow with Ellington — or offer only Richardson and Winslow, keeping Adebayo off-limits — and things get more realistic.”
Richardson, 25, is signed to one of the most valuable contracts among all starting wings in the league. He is set to collect $42 million over the next four years, which is incredibly cheap compared to similar young talents.
If the Heat had their way, they’d surrender Winslow before Richardson. It’s doubtful that Winslow would convince Minnesota, even though tough times call for tough decisions.
As the Timberwolves become more desperate for a deal to end this current nightmare, perhaps Richardson alongside veteran James Johnson or Kelly Olynyk and a first-round pick would be enough for an agreement.
The Heat can only offer their first-round draft picks in 2019 and 2023 due to previous trades and restrictions. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the first rounder would potentially go to the Sacramento Kings, who would be willing to take on Gorgui Dieng. In exchange, Miami would likely return a veteran on expiring contract.
Perhaps Zach Randolph ($11.2M), Iman Shumpert ($11.0M) or Kosta Koufos ($8.7M) could end up with the Heat as part of the three-team swing. This could be fiscally damaging, considering ownership is already paying the luxury tax.
If the Heat can come out of the trade retaining Adebayo or one of either Richardson and Winslow, the front office would presumably have to consider this a victory.
But that assumes Butler re-signs with Miami this offseason rather than bolt for the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks or another team as a free agent. This trade only makes sense for the Heat because it’s their only way to add a star, as they won’t have sufficient cap space to make a splash in free agency otherwise.
It would be tough to lose Richardson but Butler is one of the most skilled offensive and defensive players in the NBA. His intense work ethic would fit well with the culture the organization has set. Plus, it would be far from the first time a disgruntled star has found a home in Miami.
DunkWire, Bam Adebayo, Gorgui Dieng, Iman Shumpert, James Johnson, Jimmy Butler, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Kelly Olynyk, Kosta Koufos, Zach Randolph, Miami Heat, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings