Among the pandemonium that is the Jimmy Butler situation, the Miami Heat have emerged as frontrunners to land the star. A big market team and perennial free agent hotspot, the Heat have the culture of winning Butler covets. However, finding a trade that works for both Minnesota and Miami is more difficult than meets the eye.
First off, Jimmy Butler doesn’t fit Miami’s current timeline. Miami’s roster is filled with big contracts and veterans but still can barely crack the playoffs. They do, though, boast three promising young pieces in Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, and Josh Richardson.
All three are solid pieces but none have the upside to be a number one option on a championship team. Getting money off of the books and tanking seemed like the direction Miami was heading in.
Trading for Jimmy Butler would certainly provide a significant boon to their roster, vaulting them into contention in the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Butler is a top 10-15 player in the NBA. His elite defense and great offensive ability would fit well with what the Heat has going.
Making the money match is the first problem that arises here. Miami being well in the luxury tax and Minnesota being close doesn’t help either team. To make matters even more complicated, the Wolves seem set on unloading Gorgui Dieng’s contract to go along with Butler.
The Heat doesn’t have the ability to take on Dieng without giving up a bad contract of their own, necessitating the involvement of a third team.
This deal is probably the only way that a two-team deal could work out here. The Timberwolves are swapping Dieng’s bad contract here for an even worse contract in Whiteside, who plays the same position.
Due to Whiteside’s limits as an offensive player and a versatile defender, he likely wouldn’t be a fit next to Karl-Anthony Towns. Dion Waiters has some microwave scoring potential but can be a black hole at times and doesn’t play good defense. Winslow is a great asset to get here but really is the only net positive here for Minnesota.
The next possibility is adding a third team to absorb big contracts. The Suns and Kings have made it apparent that they’d be willing to soak up some money to make a deal work, so we turn to the cellar-dwellers of the Western Conference to try and find a deal that makes sense.
The Wolves once again pick up Waiters and Winslow here, along with a 2019 first round pick from the Heat. Miami gets Butler and the Kings absorb Dieng’s contract and acquire a solid wing in McGruder along with unloading Koufos’ expiring contract to make the salaries match.
It is hard to find a deal that really makes sense for all three teams in any scenario. Even here, Sacramento could very well demand more in return for taking Dieng’s contract and giving up 2019 first may even be too much for the Heat.
Jimmy Butler to the Heat makes sense on paper. Goran Dragic, Jimmy Butler should turn out to be an excellent duo and Miami has the pieces to take them to the Eastern Conference finals. Even then, an appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals is far from guaranteed given the great rosters at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Butler’s presence in the locker room could become an issue. On every team he’s been on, there has been some tension. To be fair to Butler, Andrew Wiggins and Towns seem quite immature but he’s also quarreled with Derrick Rose. Miami likely has the culture to curb these issues but his overly tough mentality could be a hindrance to one of Miami’s promising young players.
We could see a situation similar to DeMarcus Cousins and Nik Stauskas, with Cousins essentially bullying Stauskas out of Sacramento. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Erick Spoelstra could manage Butler’s alpha personality but there has to be some concern, albeit minor concern.
Butler isn’t getting any younger and paying him the max deal he will want will have him earning upwards of $30M in his 30s. What if Butler’s injury concerns persist? What if sees a decline due to the exorbitant amount of mileage he’s accrued under Thibodeau?
Since 2013-14, Butler has averaged 37.6 minutes per game and has 26 games that he played at least 45 minutes. Maybe Butler ages well, maybe he stays healthy? Given Miami’s payroll and the aforementioned concerned surrounding Butler, Pat Riley should avoid trading for Jimmy Butler.