The Cleveland Cavaliers are still hot on Jimmy Butler’s trail.
According to ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Cleveland Cavaliers still remain interested in acquiring Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star forward Jimmy Butler despite the Wolves’ high asking price.
The Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Cleveland Cavaliers are among teams interested with Butler, league sources said. The Brooklyn Nets have interest, but they haven’t been engaged recently with Minnesota, sources said. Washington and Dallas are among teams who’ve gauged the asking price on Butler too, league sources said.
Wojnarowski would also report that the Miami Heat, who have emerged as Butler’s preferred trade destination according to The New York Times’ Marc Stein, are having trouble striking a deal with the Timberwolves because of their counter-offers.
The Miami Heat have been the latest to aggressively pursue a deal for Butler, but Minnesota’s counter was a non-starter for Heat president Pat Riley, league sources said.
After trading three potential All-Stars in Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft (Lauri Markkanen), the Wolves are looking to recoup as much as possible from their one-year rental of Butler.
That said, with Butler looking to be traded as soon as possible and content staying away from the team until a deal is made, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ options are limited.
The potential deal
They can’t trade their best player in Kevin Love, a five-time All-Star who is an elite shooter and rebounder in the frontcourt, until January 23rd. The Cleveland Cavaliers can’t trade Rodney Hood, who Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue sees as the second option behind Love, until December 15th.
That leaves rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the 8th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, as the most talented player that they have left on the roster.
Considering that the Timberwolves don’t have a point guard locked into under contract past the 2019-2020 season and the similarities he has to Derrick Rose, an intense attacking point guard who played for Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau in Chicago before heading to Minnesota, Sexton could be the perfect pickup.
Shooting guard Kyle Korver could find himself moved in a potential deal as well, given the Wolves’ need for shooting and the Cavs’ logjam at the two.
With $9 million left to exchange and teams like the Sacramento Kings willing to absorb bloated contracts as a third team in a potential deal, likely for draft picks, Cleveland could also send shooting guard J.R. Smith to the Western Conference.
If the Timberwolves need additional compensation from the Cavs, they’ll likely have to wait two seasons for a first-round pick to be conveyed to them, as the Cavs aren’t guaranteed to be able to trade a first-round pick with 2021.
The Cavs could also make that pick conditional, with their 2019 first-round pick being sent to the Timberwolves if they can keep it; the Cavs lose their draft pick if they don’t have one of the league’s worst 10 records.
As for the Kings, a second-round pick should do, given that it’ll likely be a high second-round pick and Smith’s contract is only partially guaranteed next season.
Summarily, the Cavs will receive Jimmy Butler for Sexton and a conditional first-round pick. The Cavs may be asked to take on Gorgui Dieng’s contract too but would have to trade Tristan Thompson, who has one less year on his contract.