All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler brought new life to the NBA offseason on Wednesday after he requested a trade away from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Set to become a free agent at the end of the 2018-19 season, a frayed relationship that saw no promise of being mended prompted the demand, followed by a list of three teams that he would want to be traded to.
Along with the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets, Butler listed the New York Knicks as a team he would wish to be traded to.
While normally a player doesn’t get to dictate where he’ll go, Butler’s looming free agency plays a large role in this possible trade. Any team interested in trading for Butler will not want to give away valuable assets for a player who could walk next summer.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks, Nets and Clippers will all have the space available on the roster next year to sign Butler to a max contract. The promise of getting multiple years out of Butler would obviously prompt the interested parties in giving up more for a player who has averaged 23.1 points per game over the past two seasons.
One would naturally perceive that this would be great news for the Knicks who are attempting to build their way out of the basement of the Eastern Conference by positioning themselves for major free agents in 2019.
With Kristaps Porzingis and rookie phenom Kevin Knox, there is finally light at the end of a two-decade-long tunnel that has seen the Knicks struggle for relevance.
Butler was believed to be one of those free-agent targets alongside Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. The two have discussed playing together in the future and the Knicks are reportedly all-in on Irving next summer.
Hold up on making those Jimmy Butler Knicks jerseys
But Knicks president Steve Mills isn’t ready to stray from his plan in order to acquire Butler a little earlier than expected. That means holding on to all of his building blocks, whether that be young players like Frank Ntilikina or draft picks.
“We need to build through the draft… we need to develop our young players,” Mills said. “I’ve seen [them traded for veteran players] and go wrong too many times.”
Mills believes that the Knicks will still be able to get Butler in free agency but it’s a dangerous game to play.
Should Butler be traded to another organization and he flourishes even more there — along with him getting offered a max deal — not only could the Knicks lose out on him, but they could also lose the Irving sweepstakes.