The NBA has become such a top-heavy league that there are only a handful of teams that have the clout to sign the top free agents available each summer. In the next few years the Warriors Lakers and Celtics are expected to be the big power brokers. Golden State will have the cache because they’re Golden State (they reportedly already have their eyes on Anthony Davis in 2020). The Lakers now own the clout because of LeBron. And the Celtics will be in the mix for any top name because of their treasure trove of young players and picks. It won’t hurt either that the Celts are expected to win the Eastern Conference for the next three or four years.
Elite player movement has never been more prevalent in the NBA, and two players who could very well have new addresses within in the next 10 months are DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmy Butler.
“Cousins, given a year to recuperate from a torn Achilles, may be worth a max contract. And the Warriors won’t have the ability to re-sign the big man to a significant contract next summer,” Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus wrote last week. “Outside of [Kawhi] Leonard, Cousins and Butler may be the most likely to switch teams. Per a source close to Butler, he’s open to the idea of moving on from the Timberwolves to play alongside James in Los Angeles.”
The Butler noise has been audible all off-season as he certainly seems to be unhappy in Minnesota. First he made it known that he wants to join up with Kyrie Irving, and now he’s letting it be known that he’d love to play with LeBron.
Butler wants to “be in the mix” when it comes to an NBA crown and landing with one of the NBA’s royals may be the only way it happens.
The Celtics turned down a Butler trade from the Bulls last year around draft time, but if the price is right via trade or free agency – expect Danny Ainge to do his due diligence. If Irving is as hell-bent on playing with Butler as Butler seems to be hell-bent on playing with Irving, then Ainge would be stupid not to explore bringing Butler in. The Celtics first priority in the next 10 months, of course, is to re-up with Irving. If it means trading away a piece of their young foundation to please Irving, Ainge may pull the trigger.
If the Celtics are to make the NBA Finals next summer but are annihilated by the powerhouse Warriors, then Ainge will surely explore his options when it comes to veteran mercenaries. Ainge has consistently said over the years that NBA championships are the only thing that matters. The Celtics don’t hang Eastern Conference championship banners. If the current roster isn’t good enough to take down the Golden State dynasty then Ainge has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to make major changes.
NBA Trade Rumors Lakers Celtics Jimmy Butler DeMarcus Cousins
If the Timberwolves are looking to trade Butler at next February’s deadline the Celtics likely wouldn’t be interested given that they want to see the progression of Jaylen Brown. The Lakers, however, would be more likely to move things along.
If things are going well early in Year 1 with LeBron and LA believes it can make a run, don’t be surprised if they target a veteran like Butler.
“Jimmy Butler in Minnesota: Who knows how it starts out this season there, but they may have to look at doing something with him,” Adrian Wojnarowski said on his podcast. “If they don’t have a commitment from him, do they have to look at doing something with him by the trade deadline? Do they risk losing him for nothing? You look back, they gave up a lot for him. That deal with the Bulls at the time, they gave up some really good pieces. It’s hard to let that walk out the door for nothing.”
As for Cousins, his camp reached out to the Celtics right before he signed with the Warriors. Unless Irving were to leave in free agency, the Celtics would have nowhere near the type of money to sign Cousins next summer.
The Lakers are a more likely destination for Cousins next summer than the Celtics, but there did not seem to be much interested from LA this summer when it came to signing Boogie. Hard to believe that would change much over the course of a year.