BOSTON (CBS) — Following a contentious season with the Timberwolves, Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota.
Butler had success on the floor in his first (and potentially only) season with the Wolves in 2017-18, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Minnesota made the playoffs as the Western Conference’s eight-seed with a 47-35 record, but Butler reportedly had several clashes with head coach Tom Thibodeau along the way.
Those clashes haven’t subsided, and after meeting with Thibs over the weekend to discuss the future, Butler has now requested a trade (The Athletic’s Shams Charania was first to report the news). The 29-year-old will be a free agent after the season and has three preferred destinations, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski: The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.
While Boston is not on that list, Butler is still a player the Celtics and their fans should be keeping an eye on. Not because there’s a chance Danny Ainge dives into his treasure chest of assets and swings a deal, but because where Butler lands could have an effect on the franchise’s future.
There have been rumblings that Butler and Celtics All-Star guard Kyrie Irving (who can opt out and become a free agent after this season) want to join forces and form their own super team, with New York their preferred destination. Landing Butler could be New York’s first step toward prying Irving away from Boston next summer.
But the Knicks have to actually get Butler first, and that’s not something they’ll be rushing to do with the new season just under a month away. The Wolves are going to want a pretty hefty package for the four-time All-Star, though they don’t have too much leverage given Butler’s impending free agency. Most smart teams won’t give up much if there’s a chance they can get the player for nothing (you know, besides heaps of cash) after the season.
There may not be enough time for the Wolves to move Butler ahead of the new season, but his demands add another fascinating storyline for NBA fans to monitor leading up to the new year.