You’ve read the rumors, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be trading All-Star wing Jimmy Butler at some point over the next several days, and while we don’t know where and when that Butler trade is going to happen just yet, we do know the Kings want in, according to a new report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Wojnarowski and Lowe dropped a detailed report on all-things Jimmy Butler trade rumors late last night, and it’s worth reading in its entirety to get the full picture, but as it pertains to the Kings, it looks like they are trying to use their $11 million in cap space + expiring contracts to take on a bad contract and acquire some kind of draft assets in the process.
To facilitate a Butler trade, the sort of broader deal necessary to meet the financial needs of Minnesota and Butler’s future team, circumstances will necessitate bringing the Sacramento Kings into the process. If the Timberwolves remain intent on unloading backup center Gorgui Dieng and the three years and $48 million left on his contract, they’ll need the Kings. No one in the NBA comes close to the $11 million in salary-cap space that the Kings possess to absorb a contract, as well as the several expiring contracts -- including Zach Randolph ($11.6 million), Iman Shumpert ($11 million) and Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million) -- to move onto a team that prefers to clear cap space in July.
In recent days, Sacramento has been aggressive in courting Minnesota and several of Butler’s trade suitors -- offering to use its space as a landing spot for bloated contracts. The Kings are without their first-round draft pick in 2019, and uniquely positioned to leverage that cap space into, at a minimum, a future first-round pick and maybe more as part of a Butler blockbuster. The Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers and Miami Heat all have contracts that they’d love to unload, and a Butler deal could mean that they deliver Sacramento a pick and cash to take on a veteran player.
Assistant GM Brandon Williams has informed teams that the Kings aren’t adverse to parking contracts that extend into the 2019-20 season, including Dieng. Whatever happens with the Butler deal, the Kings are determined to use that $11 million in cap space and their expiring contracts to gather more assets for the future.
This is exactly the kind of move Vlade Divac, Brandon Williams, and the Sacramento Kings should be exploring right now. They have a roster stacked with young players that need developmental playing time, and since a playoff birth isn’t expected for at least a couple of seasons, they can afford to park a bad contract or two on their books in the hopes of acquiring more young talent, and it sounds like that is exactly what they are trying to do.
Of the teams Wojnarowski and Lowe listen above, Timberwolves big man Gorgui Dieng and the $48 million over 3 years left on his contract are a perfect candidate for this kind of move.
The Brooklyn Nets are an interesting mention here, because the closest thing they have to a bad long-term contract is swingman Allen Crabbe, who, unlike Dieng, isn’t really dead cap space. Crabbe is still a reasonably effective NBA player, and he only has $37 million over 2 years left on his contract. Is he overpaid? Yes, but his presence on the Nets roster isn’t really stopping them from doing anything like you could say Dieng is in Minnesota.
The Clippers’ lone ‘bad’ contract is veteran forward Danillo Gallinari and the remaining 2 years, $44 million left on his current deal. Like Crabbe, Gallinari is still a pretty decent NBA player when healthy, but injury issues have derailed his career on several occasions.
The Miami Heat are the most intriguing team when you’re talking about taking on bad contracts for draft assets. They’ve got players under long-term contracts that they’d like to move up and down the roster. Our old friend Hassan Whiteside is owed $52 million over the next 2 years. Capable guard Tyler Johnson is owed $38.4 million over the next 2 years. James Johnson is owned roughly $45.8 million over the next 3 years if he accepts his $16 million player option in 20-21. Dion Waiters is owed $36.3 million over the next 3 years. Their cap sheet is a mess.
Needless to say, Kings will have a lot of options here, but this is the right strategy at this point in the rebuild. Stay tuned.