The Knicks made their declaration, drew their line in the sand regarding Jimmy Butler. “We’re not going to trade our draft picks,” team president Steve Mills told season ticket holders at the equivalent of a Knicks pep rally earlier this week. “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.” Usually, executives leave wiggle room. Plausible deniability. But that statement from Mills was absolute, broadcast on Facebook for the world to see. It also arrived just one day before Butler met with the Timberwolves to request a trade, telling their brass he prefers three destinations – the Knicks, Nets and Clippers.
Butler told Minnesota president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau that he would like to be traded before reporting for Timberwolves media day on Monday and prefers the possibility of the Clippers -- as well as the New York Knicks, league sources said. Butler told the Timberwolves that he planned to leave the franchise in free agency next summer, sources said.
The Brooklyn Nets' ability to sign two max free agents in the summer will keep them in consideration for Butler, but he has prioritized the Clippers and Knicks over them, league sources said.
After weeks of seriously contemplating his future in Minnesota, Butler requested a trade from the Timberwolves and informed Thibodeau of his decision on Tuesday in a meeting in Los Angeles, league sources told The Athletic. Players within the locker room first began to hear whispers of Butler’s plans last week, according to sources. Butler has given the Timberwolves a list of teams that could interest him. The Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers are expected as desired destination, and could extend to the Miami Heat and others, sources said. He’s long held a level of desire to potentially play in Los Angeles, a scenario those around him discussed internally as a Bulls free agent in 2015.
Brooklyn and the Clippers appear motivated on Butler, while the Knicks have been firm all summer that the team does not want to part with assets and instead prioritize signing free agents outright, according to sources. The Timberwolves spent the entire offseason turning down any discussion or inquiry on Butler — and now would be wise to target controllable contracts and assets in any trade. “The price on [Butler] is difficult to pay now, when you can wait and sign him in July,” one team executive told The Athletic, regarding Butler hoping to be traded to a specific destination.
The Clippers, Knicks and Nets have differing levels of interest in Butler as a free agent, each prioritizing him in different ways, league sources said. ... Butler, 30, wants the five-year, $190 million maximum extension that could come with a trade to a new team, but there is some reluctance to teams to commit $40 million-plus annually as Butler reaches his mid-30's, league sources told ESPN.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota's Jimmy Butler has three preferred destinations for a trade, league sources tell ESPN: The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Those three teams have max cap space to sign Butler as a free agent in July.
Frazier was asked on the radio show if it was realistic to think that Durant, Kyrie Irving or Jimmy Butler -- all potential free agents in 2019 -- would sign with the Knicks. "Probably 50-50," Frazier said. "You never know what these guys are thinking today. It's not something that I would have done. I would have never joined [Jerry] West or [Bill] Russell or [Wilt] Chamberlain. I wanted to kick their butt.
As with Irving, our panel sees New York as Butler's most likely destination, though it's difficult to see at this moment how the Knicks would create the cap space for both of them (not to mention the chance Durant chooses New York too). Perhaps most telling about these results though is the fact that 10 possible Butler destinations were listed, in addition to his current team. Butler was also the only player in our Forecast for whom his current team didn't finish first or second in the voting, with only 12 percent of panelists seeing Minnesota as his long-term home. Expect the four-time All-Star to have a new team next summer.
"A lot of the stuff you hear comes from the media and from agents, and that is going to be the case all year," one league source with knowledge of the Knicks’ plans told Sporting News. "Kyrie Irving comes from the media. Jimmy Butler comes from the media and his agent. That’s not coming from Steve and Scott. They’re a lot more careful here."
June 22, 2021 | 9:02 pm EDT Update
James Edwards III: The Pistons get the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. The first time since 1970. Also the first time the team has ever moved up in the lottery.
Ben Golliver: 2021 NBA Draft Lottery order 1. Pistons 2. Rockets 3. Cavaliers 4. Raptors 5. Magic 6. Thunder 7. Warriors (from Timberwolves) 8. Magic (from Bulls) 9. Kings 10. Pelicans 11. Hornets 12. Spurs 13. Pacers 14. Warriors
James Edwards III: Ben Wallace: “I think my game would be (perfect) for today’s game. The game was built for giants. Now there’s freedom to run, move and it’s a lot faster.” “I think the game got a little bit soft.”
Rod Beard: #Pistons Ben Wallace on his future in coaching/front office: “I would coach, but I hope and pray that I don’t run into a guy like Ben Wallace … what I can bring to the game goes a little past coaching.”