According to multiple sources, Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Butler has given Minnesota a list of one-to-three teams with whom he's open to signing extension, in anticipation of trade.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) September 19, 2018
Now, the chances of the Rockets being one of those teams is definitely nonzero. I don’t see why Butler would not want to sign with a team that won 65 games last year and just so happens to reside in his hometown.
Pulling the trigger and bringing Jimmy Butler to Houston, however, is not as easy as it seems.
When the Rockets acquired Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss earlier this offseason, there was a lot of speculation that the pair would be a part of an even bigger trade. Chriss is Houston’s best young tradeable prospect at just 21 years old, but he can’t go by himself. Same goes with Knight. However, the trade would not work between the two teams until November due to a rule in the CBA that does not allow recently acquired players to be traded in combination with another player for two months.
Throw in a first-round pick and I think the Wolves would definitely consider, but this specific trade cannot happen until after the season begins. And with the season fast approaching, it looks like the Wolves might want to get this deal done before the season so that the Wolves can start fresh.
It doesn’t rule the Rockets out, however. It just means that Chriss and Knight are off the table. So, who does that leave as the player most likely to be traded? Eric Gordon.
EG has had more ups than downs in his first two seasons with the Rockets and with the Wolves standing as a team not looking to rebuild, it makes sense to grab a player in his prime.
Gordon would slot right into the Wolves’ lineup and play alongside Andrew Wiggins on the wing. However, once again, the salaries do not match and the Rockets would need to include one more player.
Someone the Wolves would likely ask for? P.J. Tucker.
The trade works, but I have a hard time seeing Daryl Morey agreeing to send two role players away for one star. As we’ve seen in the playoffs, depth is equally as important as star power, and I don’t believe the Rockets get better by making this trade. Sure, the Rockets can send an aging Nene in lieu of Tucker, but I have a hard time seeing the Wolves agreeing to that trade, even if the Rockets also included a first-round pick.
The Rockets have a lot to lose by making a trade before the season begins by giving up two of their top role players for Butler. Their best potential package can’t be traded before the season starts and they could very well be beaten to the punch by a team like the Miami Heat or the Los Angeles Clippers, teams that have better assets for the Wolves right now.
Ultimately, I think there’s only a small chance the Rockets acquire Butler, and only a super slim chance it happens before the season begins. The likelihood is that another team will trade for him, but for Rockets fans, just live by the words of Jim Carrey: