According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe, the Timberwolves seek “quality veterans, top prospects, future assets and salary-cap relief.” That’s a high price to pay for Butler, 29, who is not practicing with the team and has stated he no longer wishes to play in Minnesota.
The Heat can afford to be patient as they continue their training camp at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton this week. They’re not the one with the pressure to get a deal done quickly and remove this black cloud hanging over them since before Media Day, a culmination of the organizational disorder between the owner and the front office.
It’s understandable why Timberwolves president and coach Tom Thibodeau is holding out for a better deal while also trying to persuade Jimmy Butler on the merits of rejoining the team but at this point it would just be too awkward to return. But the reality remains that there is simply not many NBA teams interested in paying that steep of a price for essentially a one-year rental and/or the ability to sign him to a max extension playing in his 30s.
That doesn’t mean Miami will be able to fleece them while also unloading undesirable contracts either. The cost to acquire a genuine two-way player should be fair, particularly an almost too-good-to-be-true scenario where the passing of the torch from one Marquette guard to another would be a coup for the franchise — both from a basketball and marketing standpoint. However, the Timberwolves at some point need to realize those great offers won’t be coming and be more realistic given the difficult scenario.
Meanwhile, the Heat can continue to get a better read on their players during camp and into the preseason. Some of the younger intriguing players such as Duncan Robinson may not be ready for a bigger role in the rotation just yet, but if the Heat’s coaching staff believe these players can acquit themselves with spot duty here and there, then the front office might be more comfortable in trading away a core part of the rotation.
Here is where Miami’s depth with several good-but-not-great players might actually be of benefit. An argument can be made of how important certain players are to the Heat’s success, but there are no clear cut answers. Losing one player might lead to the blossoming of another player behind him who has now been given more of an opportunity and a larger role. Ideally, the Heat would rather not part with Josh Richardson and their future first round picks but is anyone truly untouchable if it means acquiring top talent in a wide open Eastern Conference?
With Butler’s considerable skills on both ends of the floor, he would make his teammates better and also fill the crucial role of an offensive leader and go-to scorer. But as enticing as his arrival might be, Miami is not under the gun and must hold firm without breaking the bank while Minnesota figures out how they proceed. Under no circumstances should they give up multiple promising players and picks. Should they lose out, then so be it. But if Miami truly is Butler’s preferred trade destination, as reported yesterday by Marc Stein, and they’re willing to offer a reasonable trade package, then it may very well be just a question of time until it happens.