Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star guard Jimmy Butler requested a trade after meeting with team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau, according to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
Krawcynski said Butler's trade request was due to his contract situation. The four-time All-Star rejected a four-year contract worth $110 million in the offseason, and it sounds like he wants to join a team that will pony up all the cash.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Butler wants to join either the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers or New York Knicks. This is because all three teams have the necessary cap space to give Butler the supermax contract, and the room to sign another marquee free agent in the stacked 2019 class.
Of course, Butler's list of preferred destinations could expand. It's worth noting that Kyrie Irving (Boston) and Kawhi Leonard (Toronto) were traded to teams that weren't originally on their respective short lists. There's no guarantee that the three teams on Butler's list are willing to sacrifice young assets for a player that turns 30 next year.
There are a handful of teams that are in position to make a trade for Butler. They have the assets and the cap space to make a major deal work. Some teams that may look like good fits probably aren't good fits for Butler. Maybe they don't have the assets, or maybe he just simply won't re-sign long term. Either way, some of them need to just stay away from Butler. Plain and simple.
20 Could: Washington Wizards
The Wizards were just one win away from reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2017. Injuries and a lack of roster depth meant a down year in 2017-18, where the Wizards barely made the playoffs.
But with John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and newcomer Dwight Howard in the fold, the Wizards should be a top team in the East again. But what if the Wizards somehow paired Butler with Wall? That would make Washington a legitimate contender to win it the East.
Washington could dangle Austin Rivers and either Beal or Porter in a trade for Butler.
Minny gets the piece it wants to be competitive, and Butler joins a contender with the chance to sign a major extension. Well worth it.
19 Stay Away: Atlanta Hawks
After 10 straight years of making the playoffs, the Hawks faltered with a porous 24-58 record, and a rebuild is underway. Top scorer Dennis Schroder was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder, as the Hawks continue to do everything in their power to clear cap space.
That means they have no reason to make a trade for Butler. They'd have to sacrifice future first rounders (easily top-five picks), and perhaps rookie Trae Young, or other young players. It's just not worth the risk.
Atlanta needs to understand that this rebuilding process is going to be a long and painful one, and that trading for Butler alone won't turn them back into a playoff team.
18 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are one major piece away from entering championship contention, and there's a lot to love with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. Imagine if the front office could find a way to land Butler, though Middleton or Bledsoe would have to be part of the return.
Antetokounmpo and Butler are among the most complete players in the NBA, with excellent defense and superb scoring abilities. But the chances of Butler re-signing in Milwaukee? Not very good.
This team has to save cap space to give Antetokounmpo the max contract, meaning they wouldn't be able to give Butler the supermax he wants. If money is the main factor for Butler here, then the Bucks aren't a fit.
17 Could: Boston Celtics
The Celtics are by far the deepest team to beat in the Eastern Conference, so Danny Ainge may not feel the desire to part with the likes of Jaylen Brown, Marcus Morris or Jayson Tatum in a deal for Butler.
But if the Celtics get Butler to join forces with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, then they're heads and shoulders above everybody else in the East. Not only that, but Boston would have enough star power and depth to scare the defending champion Golden State Warriors.
Boston could lose Irving in free agency next year, but keeping Butler long term would be a fine consolation prize.
He won't come cheap in a trade with Minnesota, but it's a move Ainge should make to put them on the level of Golden State.
16 Stay Away: Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder own the dynamic duo of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, and adding a player of Butler's caliber would put them near the same level as the Warriors. But GM Sam Presti would have to do a lot of maneuvering to make a trade for Butler work, and he's probably better off staying away.
A deal for Butler would probably have to include Steven Adams and/or Dennis Schroder plus draft picks. The Thunder also had to cut significant payroll last year, which is why they dealt Carmelo Anthony to take on Schroder's mammoth contract.
No reason to gut the roster for Butler, especially when the Thunder don't have the cap space to give him a supermax extension. Presti needs to just stick with what he has.
15 Could: Phoenix Suns
The Suns' rebuild is on the right track now. First overall pick Deandre Ayton should make an immediate impact, while sophomore Josh Jackson should be able to contribute more offensively. Devin Booker will continue to lead the offense, fresh off a $158 million supermax extension.
Phoenix was in play for Kyrie Irving last year before his trade to Boston; a sign the front office is willing to make the necessary moves to compete right away. Maybe packaging Jackson and future draft picks for Butler is the move this team needs to be a competitive squad again.
And yes, the Suns would have the cap space to give into Butler's contracts demands. This is absolutely a player they should be trading for.
14 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Miami Heat
The Heat made the playoffs with 44 wins last season, and franchise icon Dwyane Wade announced that 2018-19 will be his last year in the NBA. One might think the Heat would love to make the play for Butler, but Wojnarowski did note that they don't have the cap space to make it work.
If Miami was able to clear salary, then perhaps making a trade for Butler makes lots of sense.
A team built around Butler, Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic would be force in the Eastern Conference.
But again, Miami just doesn't have the cap space to give Butler the max extension. Because of this, he won't even think about re-signing Miami, should they decide to trade for him.
13 Could: Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers are a steady playoff team in the west under Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, but the front office should be looking to reach the next level. Trading for Butler makes Portland an undisputed top-three team in the Western Conference, giving Lillard the best sidekick he's ever had.
There's a chance Portland would have to flip McCollum and other pieces in a trade for Butler, but it would be a worthwhile move. The Timberwolves would get a comparable player to keep the team competitive, while Portland adds a big player whom they have the chance to extend long term.
12 Stay Away: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors already had four All-Stars to begin with, but they just had to sign center DeMarcus Cousins to give them arguably the greatest starting five in NBA history. Life simply isn't fair.
For Golden State to acquire Butler, they'd most definitely have to give up either Klay Thompson or Draymond Green, and maybe backup sensation Shaun Livingston plus draft picks.
Here's the thing: Golden State already has the league's most stacked roster by a country mile. There really isn't a reason for them to touch it. Let Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry be their usual dominant selves. There is no reason to trade for Butler at the expense of one of their other star players.
11 Would't Re-Sign With: San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs dynasty appears to be over, with Kawhi Leonard (traded to Toronto), Manu Ginobili (retired), and Tony Parker (signed with Charlotte), long gone. Head coach Gregg Popovich is rumored to retire after he coaches Team USA at the 2020 Summer Olympics.
San Antonio does have some effective players in newcomer DeMar DeRozan, veteran Pau Gasol and big man LaMarcus Aldridge. One of those would maybe need to go in a trade for Butler, or else San Antonio could dangle Jakob Poeltl and a first-round pick, which they got from Toronto for Leonard.
But San Antonio isn't the big market that Butler wants to play that. Not only that, but this team isn't in position to give him the supermax contract. Those two factors alone mean that Butler wouldn't want to stay long term.
10 Could: Toronto Raptors
Raptors president Masai Ujiri took the risk and traded away DeMar DeRozan in a package deal that brought Kawhi Leonard to Toronto. When healthy, Leonard is a top-five player in the NBA, and by far the league's best defensive player. He will change the dynamic of this team.
But who said Ujiri would want to stop there? Butler wants a team that will give him the supermax. Maybe Ujiri decides to go all-in and extend Butler to the max? It at least gives him a superstar to build around if Leonard decides to leave in 2019.
Toronto also has the assets to offer Minnesota: Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and defensive stalwart OG Anunoby are among the players that Ujiri could dangle in a trade.
Having Butler, Leonard and Kyle Lowry would make Toronto the second-best team in the NBA, no question about it. If Butler's willing to sign for the max, why wouldn't the Raptors go for it?
9 Stay Away: Houston Rockets
The Rockets already have championship-caliber roster with the dynamic duo of James Harden and Chris Paul. Clint Capela and Carmelo Anthony should tune in some fine production, too.
However, the Rockets would have to gut the roster in order to make a trade for Butler work.
They'd have to make so many moves just to afford the final year of his contract, and there's no way they can possibly afford giving him the supermax.
And no, Butler won't be signing an extension for cheap.
Yes, Butler would be a nice add for the Rockets. But the amount of roster gutting it would take just isn't worth it. Houston has to roll with what they have now, plain and simple.
8 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Detroit Pistons
The Pistons already have a top front court with Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, but they need a strong outside shooter and playmaker to complement their two superstars. Imagine if Butler was playing defense with Drummond and Griffin? Detroit would be a force in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit does have the pieces necessary to make a trade work for Butler, but it's hard to see him re-signing with the Pistons. If he didn't like Minneosta because of the locker room, working alongside Griffin may not work out too well. Also, there's no guarantee the Pistons want to give him the supermax.
7 Could: New York Knicks
The Knicks are one of the three teams on Butler's wish list, and they're the perfect landing spot for him. If he wants to shine in a big market team, then New York is the one. The franchise has been awful for five years now, but acquiring Butler in a trade would put them right back into the playoff race.
All-Star forward Kristaps Porzingis is recovering from an ACL tear, and it's unknown when he'll return. The Knicks should trade for Butler, so that Porzingis has a new star to work with when he returns.
Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times reported recently that Butler and Kyrie Irving want to play together on an Eastern Conference team. The Knicks should trade for Butler, then pursue Irving in free agency. And just like that, New York will be a force in the East once again.
6 Stay Away: Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have the assets to make a trade for Butler. But if they wouldn't part with the likes of Markelle Fultz, Robert Covington or Dario Saric for Kawhi Leonard, why would they do so with Butler?
Philadelphia has no reason to sacrifice any of their younger players for a guy like Butler, who only has so many prime years left.
With Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Fultz, they already have an elite roster that should compete for championships over the next decade.
A wise man once said "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Philadelphia has rebuilt the roster perfectly. There is no reason to change it.
5 Could: Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have been in rebuilding mode for three years now. The problem is, they surrendered most of their draft picks to the Boston Celtics in the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce-Jason Terry deal five years ago.
Brooklyn has loaded up on picks and young assets, and now's the time for them to make a big move. The Nets are one of Butler's three preferred landing spots, so why not make the trade and give Butler the max?
They could move out DeMarre Carroll's contract in order to clear some cap space for Butler. Moving out D'Angelo Russell and a combination of draft picks should be enough for Minnesota. It's an aggressive move that the Nets must make.
4 Stay Away: Dallas Mavericks
It's unknown if Mark Cuban and the front office would have interest in Butler. But even if he wanted to come here, Mavericks fans shouldn't hold their breath on the team acquiring Butler to play alongside Dirk Nowitzki.
The Mavericks are in semi-rebuilding mode right now. Nowitzki is nearing retirement, but he'll at least have a chance to develop prized rookie Luka Doncic before he hangs up the cleats. Wesley Matthews takes care of the outside shooting, while DeAndre Jordan brings superb defense and extra offense.
Butler isn't exactly needed in Dallas. The shooting is taken care of with Matthews and Doncic. Jordan is the defender they need, so adding Butler only strengthens their, well, strength.
No need for Dallas to go in this direction.
3 Wouldn't Re-Sign With: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers probably should have probably started their rebuild, rather than re-sign Kevin Love for $120 million. Cleveland could try and offer up a package centered around first-round pick Collin Sexton and veterans Kyle Corver, George Hil, Rodney Hood and/or Jordan Clarkson.
But if the Cavaliers were to unite Butler with Love, don't expect it to last for more than a season.
Cleveland doesn't have the cap space to give Butler the maximum extension he wants, and it's not exactly the LA or New York market that he seemingly wants to play in.
If Cleveland gets Butler, it would be for one year. There's little to no chance that he'd consider signing here long term.
2 Could: Los Angeles Clippers
Wojnarowski did say that the Clippers are Jimmy Butler's most preferred destination for a variety of reasons. For one, if the Clippers manage to trade for Butler, they'd have the cap space to give him the supermax extension.
It was also noted by 'Woj' that Butler wants to play in a big market, but he's turned away from being LeBron's sidekick with the Lakers. It was also said that Butler likes that the Clippers have the cap space to sign another major star in free agency next year.
The Clippers could offer a package that includes Patrick Beverley, Tobias Harris and draft picks. It'd be enough to make Minnesota a competitive team next year, while the Clippers land their new franchise star. It'd make all parties happy, to say the least.
1 Stay Away: Los Angeles Lakers
As said above, Wojnarowski reported that Butler doesn't want to play with LeBron in Los Angeles. But even if the four-time All-Star changed his stance on that, Magic Johnson and co. should hold off on a Butler trade.
Why? Because they would certainly have to give up a combination of Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, three of their rising stars. It doesn't make sense to mortgage the future, when Butler is only a year away from free agency.
If the Lakers want Butler, they should wait until he hits the free agent market. That way, they'd get Butler to pair up with LeBron, without having to sacrifice any of their top young assets.