In case you missed it, there’s a lot of dysfunction floating around the Minnesota Timberwolves right now. Just days before training camp was set to begin, star wing Jimmy Butler met with coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau to formally request a trade.
By all accounts, Thibodeau has been unwilling to give in to the request. Both Butler and young franchise cornerstone Karl-Anthony Towns (who has been reported to butt heads with Butler) have apparently gone directly to Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor to force the action. Given that Towns promptly followed that up by signing a five-year, $190 million extension (something he reportedly was unwilling to do if Butler stayed on the team), it would seem Butler’s days in Minny are very numbered.
But still, there’s been little action on the trade front, though Butler also isn’t reporting to training camp. Thibodeau is apparently holding out for a monstrous, impossible deal, with The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reporting that the coach hilariously requested Ben Simmons in a potential trade with the Philadelphia 76ers.
If this keeps up, ownership will likely get involved, and Taylor will demand the team trade Butler, no matter how little the return.
And one potential destination is the Houston Rockets. Mark Berman, who has his finger rather firmly on the pulse of the Houston sports scene, reported that the Rockets are trying hard to land Butler.
NBA sources confirm the #Rockets are making a strong effort to land Jimmy Butler in a trade with Minnesota.— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) September 28, 2018
It’s hard to envision a trade scenario for Houston, as the Wolves will likely be looking for long-term assets, and the Rockets really don’t have many of those to offer. The most plausible trade would be something involving a third team that could help get Minnesota the pieces they desire.
Still, these rental trades often result in pretty low final offers, as evidenced by the small package the New Orleans Pelicans gave up when they traded for DeMarcus Cousins, and the trade the Oklahoma City Thunder made for Paul George, which looked like a heist before Victor Oladipo took an unprecedented leap of epic proportions.
If Houston can manage to swing a deal without trading PJ Tucker, they’ll trot out a starting lineup of Chris Paul, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker, and Clint Capela. That lineup would likely be able to go toe-to-toe with a starting five of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, and DeMarcus Cousins.
From a Warriors standpoint, such a trade would solidify Houston as the biggest contender to knock the Dubs off their throne. But dang . . . that sure would be an epic series to watch.