For the better part of the last month, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been in direct talks with the Miami Heat, regarding the potential trade of Jimmy Butler. Ever since Minnesota signed Karl-Anthony Towns to a max contract extension, worth $190 million over the next five years, there has been increasing buzz surrounding Butler and his next destination.
It’s obvious that butler was unhappy in Minnesota, and that he has not exactly gelled with his teammates. As a result, he has been vocal about requesting a trade to a team that can pay him a max contract of his own. In fact, Butler stated his top priority would be the Miami Heat, and that becomes important since he is slated to become a free agent next summer. Any team that agrees to a trade for him, must also know that he could decide to leave, unless he agrees to sign with them long-term.
But over the weekend, league sources said that the deal to send Butler to Miami fell apart. Minnesota had already sent in Butler’s latest medical conditions, indicating that a deal was imminent. So what happened that made the deal deteriorate? It appeared that the Timberwolves were determined to include Miami’s Josh Richardson in any potential deal, assuring themselves a young talent, who played 81 games last season and plays great at both ends of the court. Teaming him with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins is something Minnesota viewed as a promising lineup for their future.
But as talks of a deal progressed, Minnesota began to ask for more in exchange for the Butler, which was not taken well by the Heat front office. Moreover, a third team was likely going to be necessary to take on some of the salary implication of this deal. The Timberwolves were also looking to unload center Gorgui Dieng and the nearly $50 million left on his contract. Suddenly, there were simply too many obstacles to overcome. The deal became too complex, and perhaps even too risky for the Heat to withstand.
So where does Minnesota go now? Butler also mentioned a few other teams that he was interested in signing with, including the Los Angeles Clippers, the New York Knicks, and the Brooklyn Nets. All of these teams currently have the salary cap space to sign Butler to a long-term deal. But without prior agreement from the star that he would sign a long-term deal with their respective team, it would be too much of a risk for them to trade away some of their best assets for a potential “flight risk.”
Ultimately, there is still a good chance that the Heat and Timberwolves return to the negotiating table. They could still work something out. In reality, Butler is too much of a liability at this point if he remains in Minnesota, where the team is already making moves for life without him. They want to win now, and they have the pieces in place to make that happen (to a certain extent).
The Timberwolves are likely to pull the trigger on the next good offer they get. Particularly if that offer comes ahead of the approaching start to the 2018-19 season.