So as drama reigns supreme in Minneapolis and the news came down that Timberwolves All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota after one season, Knicks fans spirits perked up for the first time in a long time.
Why? Well, as soon as Butler told Wolves head coach and president of basketball operations, Tom Thibodeau, that he wanted out, a list of three teams that Butler wanted to get traded to leaked out as well.
The teams are the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and the New York Knicks.
For what it is worth, I still have a hard time believing Thibodeau will ultimately trade Butler, but we shall see. What we know now is that Butler wants out and the Knicks are one of the teams that he would like to get traded to.
Certainly, you can’t criticize Butler for wanting to go to a championship-caliber team, because none of his preferred destinations represent that in any way shape or form.
But now this will provide the ultimate test to the Knicks. Even though the early reports from the Butler camp are that he prefers to go to Los Angeles and the Clippers, the Knicks are in the game for a 30-year-old All-Star.
What do I mean by a test? Well, the Knicks have made it perfectly clear that they are in this for the long game. They want to continue to develop their young talent as they wait for star forward Kristaps Porzingis recover from a torn ACL.
Finally, they are not looking for short-cuts or quick-fixes and trying to take the easy way out. They have a head coach that they organizationally believe in. They have a plan that they have apparently bought into, but the true test of their commitment to that plan comes now. Why, because that quick fix has become available and his name is Jimmy Butler.
At a press conference this past Thursday morning, Knicks President Steve Mills said, “we’re committed to following the plan and not just shifting, pivoting because we see something that is attractive and might fast track something.”
Head Coach David Fizdale said, “we don’t want to jump at shiny things. We want to build it up from the ground-up culturally.”
Mills, Fizdale and general manager Scott Perry seem to all be on the same page. Knicks fans seem to be on the same page as well. The confidence in these three men will only build based on the strength of their convictions.
The Knicks are playing the long game and they should. They should not deviate from that path for Butler. This is in no way shape or form a knock on the talents of Butler. He is great and a hard-working two-way player. He would fit on most organizations, including the Knicks, and would be a welcomed winning asset.
But, it just does not work for the Knicks right now.
Why rush in to make a trade for a player that is clearly not the finishing move and will put the team over the top into title contention?
The Knicks are not even close to being a playoff contender, no less a championship contender. They are a rebuilding franchise that is looking to do it the right way with young pieces like former Kentucky Wildcat Kevin Knox.
Simply, why not wait until next summer and see if you can sign Butler as a free agent?
By the way, the Knicks should have upwards of $30 million dollars in cap space. If Butler’s plan to force his way out of Minnesota does not work and he hits free agency next summer, all it would cost the Knicks to bring Butler aboard would be straight cash.
There have also been rampant rumors that the Knicks would like to sign two impact free agents next summer with that cap space including current Celtics guard Kyrie Irving. Simply put, stick to the plan. Be committed to the plan, strong with your convictions and don’t divert from it.
I agree and believe in the game plan and I would not be willing to give up assets, including a potential first-round draft choice for Butler. It is the first big test for Mills, Fizdale and Perry to stay true their word. If they are able to stick to their plan, then maybe the fan base will gain confidence and start to believe in them.