09/20 13:05 CDT On Basketball: Butler made his move - now it's Wolves' turn
On Basketball: Butler made his move - now it's Wolves' turn
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
MIAMI (AP) --- Jimmy Butler knows that NBA players can force their way into
Forcing their way into a trade that suits the player, that's an entirely
Butler has told the Minnesota Timberwolves that he has no intentions of
re-signing with the club next summer, his way of saying "trade me now" or "lose
me for nothing later." The Athletic first reported Butler's decision.
It's a power move that players can make.
Thing is, it comes with risk --- because what happens next is not up to Butler.
This was the lesson learned from the Kawhi Leonard situation, from the Kyrie
Irving situation, from the Paul George situation. Leonard supposedly was hoping
for a trade from San Antonio to the Los Angeles Clippers. Irving wanted to be
sent by Cleveland to either San Antonio and Miami. George was widely assumed to
leave Indiana for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Leonard is in Toronto , at least for one season.
Irving got sent to Boston , and is a free agent next summer.
George landed in Oklahoma City, and probably will be there for years.
Not a whole lot of people saw those exact moves coming. But the teams did what
was best for them. In all three cases, the Spurs, the Cavs and the Pacers got
the best deal they could make.
Now it's Butler's turn.
It should be easy to deduce that Butler can see himself with the Clippers, New
York or Brooklyn, since all of those teams will have the cap space to give him
the $140 million (or $190 million) max contract he's seeking.
Miami would interest him as well, since Butler has raved about the city in the
past and he's still very tight with fellow Marquette alum and former Chicago
teammate Dwyane Wade. Toronto is believed to be on his radar. Playing alongside
LeBron James with the Lakers is something that hardly anyone in the NBA would
A person with knowledge of the Timberwolves' situation said that Minnesota has
been talking to multiple teams, gauging the Butler market. The person spoke to
The Associated Press Thursday on condition of anonymity because talks are
ongoing. The Timberwolves aren't exactly in a position of strength, since now
everyone knows that Butler wants out and training camps start in a few days.
But that doesn't mean Minnesota doesn't control how this will play out.
When Leonard asked for his trade, the Spurs had the luxury of time and wound up
getting a very good deal from Toronto. The Cavs and the Pacers also had plenty
of time to work out something to their likings when moving Irving and George.
Minnesota doesn't have that same cushion. That'll eventually lead to Butler
being asked why he waited until the final days of the offseason to inform the
team of his unhappiness, because not only did he potentially limit Minnesota's
options but he could have limited his own.
"You should always try to get a perennial All-Star," former NBA forward Caron
Butler told TMZ Sports, adding that he thinks Jimmy Butler is "a real winner."
The Timberwolves can basically make any of the following decisions:
--- Move Butler right away and start camp without distraction;
--- Hang onto him for a while and see if he changes his mind;
--- Work out a sign-and-trade;
--- Make him play out the year.
Butler was their leading scorer last season. He's an All-Star. He helped them
end a 14-year playoff drought. Losing him, no matter what they get back,
wouldn't seem to help the Wolves' chances of returning to the playoffs in a
still-loaded Western Conference.
Sometimes, even irreconcilable differences work out.
Houston won NBA championships in 1994 and 1995, led by Hakeem Olajuwon. People
forget that in 1992, he demanded a trade in a very ugly situation sparked by
the Rockets thinking that he was faking a hamstring injury. They mended fences
and won titles.
Most of the time, though, when a player wants out, they get out.
Dwight Howard demanded to be traded by Orlando in 2012, and got his way.
Shaquille O'Neal wanted to leave the Lakers in 2004, got sent to the Heat, and
then eventually forced them to send him to Phoenix. Chris Paul and Chris Webber
have forced trades, too. And it's not a new thing --- Wilt Chamberlain and
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wanted trades and got them.
Butler got his trade ball rolling.
Where it goes, at least this season, that's up to Wolves coach and president
Tom Thibodeau --- whose own future in Minnesota might be hanging by a thread as
well right now --- more than anyone else.
Tim Reynolds is a national basketball writer for The Associated Press. Write to
him at firstname.lastname@example.org