October 23, 2018

Jimmy Butler’s Worst Nightmares

Jimmy Butler wants to head to one of the coasts, but the NBA will make sure that doesn't happen.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 05: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks on during the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Golden State Warriors as part of 2017 NBA Global Games China at Mercedes-Benz Arena on October 8, 2017 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Zhong Zhi/Getty Images)

Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting that Jimmy Butler’s preferred trade destination is the Miami Heat. Initially, it was believed that he wanted to be a Los Angeles Clipper, Brooklyn Net, or New York Knick. He’s now added another excellent place to live as a millionaire athlete to his list of acceptable trade destinations.

Since Boogie Cousins was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in the middle of the 2017 NBA All-Star Game festivities, it has become a thing for NBA stars to be traded to places that they don’t want to go. Cousins wanted to stay in Sacramento and sign a Supermax extension.

In the summer of 2017, three star players were traded to places that they didn’t want to go. Paul George was the first after making it known that he was going to leave the Indiana Pacers for the Los Angeles in free agency in the summer of 2018, so he suggested the Pacers just trade him there. Instead, they shipped George to the Oklahoma City Thunder for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

That deal worked out well for both sides. Oladipo has blossomed into an All-Star, and George opted to sign an extension with the Thunder as opposed to joining LeBron James in LA.

The next deal during the summer of 2017 was the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics exchanging star guards. Kyrie Irving made it clear that he didn’t want to play with LeBron anymore, and he wanted to be traded to the San Antonio Spurs, New York Knicks, Miami Heat, or a Minnesota Timberwolves with Jimmy Butler.  In Boston, Isaiah Thomas wanted to stay and for the Celtics to back up the Brinks truck.

Instead, Kyrie ended up in Boston and was sidelined for the playoffs with a knee injury. Isaiah Thomas never clicked in Cleveland and was shipped as part of a package to the Lakers for Larry Nance, Jr. and Jordan Clarkson. It’s hard to get a read on what Kyrie’s plans are for after this season, and Isaiah Thomas signed with the Denver Nuggets for a modest one-year, $2 million deal.

During the 2017-2018, Blake Griffin, Kawhi Leonard, and DeMar DeRozan all ended up in places that they didn’t want to be. Griffin was traded to the Detroit Pistons after the Los Angeles Clippers staged a mock jersey retirement. It was certainly unexpected after the Clippers had signed Griffin to a five-year, $171 million deal.

This trade was the first indication that there is no loyalty left in the NBA. Griffin thought he would retire in Los Angeles.

This past offseason presented a similar situation. Kawhi Leonard informed Gregg Popovich that he no longer wanted to be a Spur and wanted a trade to a Los Angeles team. Popovich obliged his trade request, but instead of sunny Los Angeles, Leonard found himself in chilly Toronto.

In the swap for Leonard, the Spurs received back DeMar DeRozan who felt blindsided by the trade. He felt that he had been assured by Raptors brass that he wasn’t available in trades, and he had been the first star player to commit to staying in Toronto long term.

All of these trades lead me to believe that there is no way that Jimmy Butler ends up in Miami, New York, or LA. I thought it would be fun to consider what the three worst trade destinations for him could be.

David Graf | The Tailgate Society

Sacramento Kings

Butler is willing to be in California, but I doubt the California state capital is what he had in mind. This glorified cow-town doesn’t provide the glitz and glamour that LA does, and he will no doubt be the best player on the team. He might even be the best player that the Kings have had since Tim Donaghy rigged a Western Conference Finals.

If the Kings were unwilling to extend Boogie Cousins, it’s hard to imagine that they would want to extend Butler. He and Cousins are both fringe players to build a team around but certified All-Stars.

The Timberwolves would probably love to create a twin towers attack with the two former Kentucky Wildcats, Towns and Cauley-Stein. Shumpert would help balance out the salary, and McLemore is just a throw in at this juncture of his career. The Timberwolves would probably want a first-round draft pick, too.

David Graf | The Tailgate Society

Orlando Magic

Butler says he prefers going to South Florida, but I don’t know how he would feel about North Florida. He might enjoy the water rides at Disney World than he does canoeing in one of Minnesota’s many lakes.

Butler would look great in the pinstripe Magic jerseys, and I can’t think of a better place to spend a single year than Orlando. I’m pretty sure Butler wouldn’t like it though because there’s not much to do in Orlando besides go to Disney World and drink your Orlando Magic sorrows away.

He would be the best player that the Magic would have had since Tracy McGrady (who got robbed of an NBA Title by Ray Allen). Aaron Gordon is no slouch, but he’s certainly not your best player on a championship team. The salaries line up, and we can compare who has more athleticism on a nightly basis between him and Andrew Wiggins.

Tom Thibodeau would probably opt for whoever shoots more mid-range two-pointers. I would be all about the video features of Jimmy Butler leading tours at Disney World though. I’m imagining incredible analysis from Butler about the rainbow peanut butter sandwiches that I had as a kid at Epcot…

David Graf | The Tailgate Society

Memphis Grizzlies

Memphis is the only three teams that I name not along the coasts, but I imagine any non-coastal team would seriously disappoint Butler. He’s spent his entire life since leaving Texas in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Minneapolis. He wants to escape the middle of the country, and Memphis provides him with no such opportunity.

Growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas I know after many day trips to Memphis that there is hardly anything to do there. A highlight was usually getting to play glow in the dark mini golf, and he seems to enjoy mini golf based on this video from the Chicago Bulls. Or he just may be competitive and likes anything that he can win.

Butler grew up in the Houston area, so he probably has a good appreciation for barbecue. That is one thing that Memphis excels at, so he would probably enjoy a rack of ribs at Rendezvous.

Thibodeau would be down because he loves old school players, and Mike Conley is as old school as they come nowadays. Jeff Green and Gorgui Dieng are included in the deal to make sure the salaries bounce out.

Jimmy Butler may end up with the Miami Heat because they have the desperation and the need, and they were a playoff team last year. This means that Jimmy Butler would make them better this season and improve their chances in a wide-open Eastern Conference. It would also be interesting if he somehow ended up in Toronto like The Ringer’s Paolo Uggeti suggests.

His worst nightmare might just be remaining in Minnesota, but the NBA is the place where amazing happens and following this drama won’t disappoint.

David Graf 9 Articles
Staff Writer

David is an Arkansas native and made stops in California and Texas. He has settled in Laramie, Wyoming to finish his undergraduate degree in Journalism at the University of Wyoming. He believes that the Justin Verlander, Deshaun Watson, and James Harden trades are the heists of the 21st Century. You may state your case if you disagree with him on Twitter @mrdavidgraf

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