Updated: Oct 13, 2018
If you have been living under a rock for the past two weeks, Timberwolves All-Star forward Jimmy Butler has requested a trade out of Minnesota. After a series of shady sub-tweets and a practice fiasco, the situation is officially a catastrophe. The original idea was to trade Butler by the trade deadline at the latest, but now it does not seem he will ever wear a Timberwolves jersey ever again. Portland had eyes on Butler last off-season when he was a member of the Bulls, and with Butler hitting free agency in 2019, his trade value is at an all time low.
So, what are some possible trade offers that the Blazers could make for Butler? Keep in mind that much of the market has soured due to teams believing they can sign him in free agency, concerns due to his age and health, and questions about his locker room fit. I will also provide a post trade depth chart of the team for you to visualize the rotation and understand how the pieces would fit together.
MIN Receive: Moe Harkless, Meyers Leonard, Anfernee Simons
POR Receive: Jimmy Butler, Willie Cauley-Stein
SAC Receive: Gorgui Dieng, Blazers 2019 1st(Top 10 Protected)
Sadly, this might be the best offer the Wolves could get for Butler. Harkless gives Thibodeau the defensive wing that he always loves, while Leonard offers three point shooting to a team that was among the worst in that category. Throw in Simons as their potential point guard of the future and you have a core that is at least semi-competitive now and should improve in the future. Minnesota also gets to dump Dieng’s contract, clearing up almost $15 million in space for the team. Sacramento acquires a much needed asset in the form of a first round pick. Remember, the Kings do not have their own first round pick this year.
Portland is the real winner here. Not only do they get a third star to pair with their backcourt, but they also add an intriguing front-court piece in Cauley-Stein who would allow Collins to play at the 4 for one more year. Butler provides a marketable upgrade over Harkless at the small forward position. His addition should allow for even more space to create looks in Terry Stotts’ offense. While giving Simons is not ideal, the team does have to offer something with upside for the trade to go through. Here’s what the projected depth chart would look with the addition of Butler:
Lillard Curry Baldwin
McCollum Stauskas Trent Jr.
Butler Turner Layman
Aminu Collins Swanigan
Nurkic Stein Oliver? Onuaku?
Portland now would have 7 shooters that defenses have to at least keep their eye on, while still keeping strong defenders apart from their backcourt. This team hypothetically could make some noise in the Western Conference.
MIN Receive: Evan Turner, Gary Trent Jr., Anfernee Simons
POR Receive: Jimmy Butler, Justin Patton
In this scenario, the Timberwolves get a worse contract than Harkless and Leonard combined in Turner, but they receive a very good defender who can operate as a secondary ball handler in Minnesota’s archaic offense. They also acquire a dead-eye shooter in Trent, as well as Simons. This is only likely to happen if Thibodeau is not allowed to negotiate with teams. Owner Glen Taylor will be looking for anything to put this situation behind him, and acquiring essentially two first round TALENTS from a deep 2018 draft is more than serviceable.
The Blazers, on the other hand, run back the third seed in the Western Conference from last year, with Jimmy Freaking Butler instead of Evan Turner. No person can tell me that this is not a major upgrade for the team. If Olshey is so confident on the regular season success of last year’s team, he should have no problem giving up two picks that probably will not help the team much within the next couple of years. Just look at this roster.
Lillard Curry Baldwin
McCollum Stauskas Payton II?
Butler Harkless Layman
Aminu Collins Swanigan
Nurkic Leonard Patton
MIN Receive: CJ McCollum, Gary Trent Jr.
POR Receive: Gary Harris, Keita Bates-Diop, Malik Beasley
DEN Receive: Jimmy Butler, Caleb Swanigan
This is a very out of the box trade idea. In all honesty, I was having trouble figuring out a third trade without involving essentially the same pieces as the first two, so I decided to get creative. I identified the Nuggets as a team who should look to acquire Butler on my NBA transactions blog (shameless plug), so I tried to get Portland involved. Now, it is well known that Thibodeau wants a package similar to what the Spurs received for Kawhi Leonard. Well, Butler is not Leonard, and McCollum is not DeRozan, so basically each team achieves a discount version of the trade. McCollum should give Karl Anthony-Towns a great pick and roll option, while also creating more movement and openness within the Timberwolves offense.
Now, by acquiring Butler, Denver has a true small forward in its starting lineup. This would allow Will Barton to move to his more natural shooting guard position. Remember, the team still has Isaiah Thomas, Mason Plumlee, Trey Lyles, and maybe even Michael Porter Jr. on its bench. Combined with a starting lineup of Jamal Murray, Barton, Butler, Millsap, and Jokic, this might cause one of the league’s best offenses to get even better AND improve on defense.
Finally, how does this affect Portland? While we would get a downgrade from CJ to Gary Harris, we still have high hopes. Harris is one of the more underrated shooting guards in the NBA, providing a perfect complement to Lillard. Beasley and Bates-Diop are two young pieces that could bolster our bench and contribute both now and in the future, and giving us even more shooters. The depth chart would be as follows:
Lillard Curry Baldwin
Harris Stauskas Simons
Harkless Turner Beasley
Aminu Bates-Diop Layman
Nurkic Collins Leonard
If the Blazers acquire Butler, it gives the team a new sense of hope for the 2018-19 season. For the past few years, Neil Olshey has trotted out very similar teams. While he was given somewhat of a pass due to the young team still growing and the Warriors dynasty in full power, this is no longer the case. With key players starting to enter their prime, and the Warriors’ foundation starting to shake a little bit, now is the time to make a move. Even if the Blazers do not trade for Butler, Neil Olshey needs to start looking how to take this roster to the next step.
If you enjoy the content you are reading, please become a member on this site.
Follow Blazer Gang on Social Media
Follow me on Twitter: @_nambreezy_