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Eric Gordon “mandatory” in trade if Rockets want Jimmy Butler

The Timberwolves want the former Sixth Man of the Year if the Rockets look to get Jimmy Butler.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Houston Rockets - Game One Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

On Saturday, ESPN reported that, according to league sources, the Minnesota Timberwolves won’t trade Jimmy Butler to the Rockets without a package including Eric Gordon.

Last week, it was reported that Houston was going pushing even harder Butler, offering four future first-round picks to the Wolves- but that’s without Gordon. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports that those picks are conditional according to what other assets Minnesota is seeking.

No surprise here, but, even with Butler approaching free agency at the end of this season, Tom Thibodeau is trying to get the max return for the four-time All-Star. And we knew that if the Rockets wanted to pull of a big trade, Gordon had to go. Now, Houston has to ask itself what puts them in the best position to be competitive.

Gordon isn’t off to the best start this season, averaging lows with the Rockets in points per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. While this trade shouldn’t be based off of five games, because- let’s face it- only Harden has been good so far this season, it actually is.

We’ve seen how desperate the Rockets have been for another star early in the season. While Gordon has been dependable and a go-to option for Houston, he’s not one that can potentially carry the team when needed; and that’s fair. No one has ever asked Gordon to carry the team.

See: With Butler, he can carry a team.

And I think that’s all the reason that’s needed here. He’s another superstar. An All-Star. A max-contract player. So, trading him for Gordon shouldn’t be a question. As loyal fans, we want to be loyal to our players, but that can hurt a team seeking a championship.

Loyalty is great, but there is no substitution for talent. We know this because it was seen, by us, first-hand when the Rockets traded the ultimate fan-favorite, Patrick Beverley, for Chris Paul. The Rockets gained 10 wins in one offseason after they traded a bunch of beloved players for a single guy (plus some other additions). Sorry, but it works.

Yes, there are things to worry about. What if doesn’t mesh well? What if he doesn’t stay? But that’s the risk you take with any player. The point is that you have a top-five two-way player in the league, and you give him every reason to stay. Butler puts the Rockets over the hump. This is another shot at the title for Houston and to stay competitive with Golden State.

This is the right move for the Rockets.