So far, few franchises, if any, are engaged in serious conversations with the Timberwolves on Butler, sources said. But the list of organizations interested in talking further with Minnesota is significant, league sources said: Brooklyn, Detroit, Houston, the LA Clippers, Miami, Philadelphia, Portland and Sacramento are among the teams interested in probing for deals.
Sacramento’s possible acquisition of Butler would be the riskiest move of Vlade Divac’s tenure, as the disgruntled wing will enter free agency in 2019, but acquiring a star of his caliber could also accelerate the rebuild more quickly than anyone had previously hoped or expected. If the Kings could somehow convince Butler to stay past the final year of his contract, their gap at alpha scorer and cornerstone player would be immediately filled.
However, even if the Kings were confident in their ability to re-sign Butler to a long-term contract, a prohibitive aspect of any discussions might be the high cost the Front Office would need to pay for his services, likely including one or more members of the current nucleus, Fox, Hield, Bogdanovic (currently injured), Bagley, or Giles, as well as salary relief and other assets. The price could very well become too expensive to gamble on Butler committing for the long haul.
A much more palatable approach to the Jimmy Butler trade market may be as a third team facilitator. The Wolves have insisted on the inclusion of Gorgiu Dieng in any conversations with other organizations, and his 3 year, $48 million contract cannot be easily absorbed by any team but the Kings. Sacramento could potentially take on bad salary from Minnesota, or from the team acquiring Butler, in exchange for draft assets or up-and-coming young players. Acquiring a first round pick or a developing small forward could be a huge boon to the reset the organization is currently experiencing.
Contrary to many of the rumors surrounding the Kings over the past few years, their involvement in the Jimmy Butler saga is a smart move as long as they don’t overpay or become too eager to advance the rebuild too quickly. Inquiring about the price of a top-fifteen player in the NBA isn’t a bad idea, but leveraging their $11 million in cap space and expiring contracts as a partner in trade discussions may be the best path forward.