In the aftermath of Butler’s trade request this week, Minnesota executives are telling teams that Butler’s an elite player and that the franchise intends to keep him, league sources said.
The situation between Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves appears to have the potential to get very ugly on both sides.
Butler has demanded a trade, but with the Timberwolves appearing resistant, there is a chance he will escalate things in the week to come. Sources told Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic that Butler could fail to report to training camp if the Timberwolves do not trade him before it opens.
The Timberwolves are slated to hold their media day on Sept. 24. Considering the team is rebuffing all attempts to open trade talks, it looks unlikely that the Butler situation will have any resolution by that point.
Nevertheless, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has become fully engaged in the decision-making process on a potential Butler trade and is far more open to the idea of orchestrating a deal than president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, league sources said.
Butler’s trade request came very late in the offseason and appears to have blindsided Minnesota. Butler is entering the final season of his contract and wants to be traded now so his next team will have his Bird rights, enabling them to offer him a max contract for more money.
Butler, 29, prefers a trade to the LA Clippers, and has a strong interest with the New York Knicks as well as an interest with the Brooklyn Nets, league sources said. Those three teams have the salary-cap space to sign Butler outright this summer to a maximum contract extension.
In any circumstance, Butler wants a trade to a team that plans to sign him to a five-year, maximum contract that could be worth $190 million in the summer, and his list could expand based upon the Timberwolves’ and rival teams’ willingness to negotiate a trade for him, league sources said.
The Miami Heat have been interested in Butler too, league sources said, although the Heat don’t have the salary-cap space in July to pursue him.
Butler will join a free-agent class that could include Leonard, Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, DeAndre Jordan and Kemba Walker. The market for Butler will likely be the five-year, $190 million maximum extension that could come with a trade to a new team, which means a team would be committing $40 million-plus annually to Butler as he reaches his mid-30s.