While still very early in the NBA season, the Houston Rockets have grown desperate enough to offer a king’s ransom for disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler.
Watching point guard Chris Paul be suspended for his on court altercation with the Los Angeles Lakers’ Rajon Rondo and with the Carmelo Anthony experiment seeming to not be working so far have pushed the Rockets to offer the Timberwolves four first round draft picks in exchange for Butler according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The four first round picks are the most that can be offered in a trade by NBA rules.
Houston, who are in a win now situation with their current roster, have seen that replacing Trevor Ariza’s defense is not an easy task. Ariza left in free agency this summer signing a one year $15 million contract with the Phoenix Suns. Houston has tried to compensate with players like James Ennis the overall team effort has not looked good outside of franchise player James Harden. Watching Anthony so far not adjusting to his role have not helped matters resulting in an early 1-3 record.
While there are still 78 games left in the regular season for the Rockets, falling behind in a very competitive Western Conference could prove disastrous for a team believed to be serious challengers to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
This potential deal under normal circumstances would be too good to pass up for Minnesota. The picks would have little protections and would come in a seven year window giving the team a chance to build a young core around Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. The picks could also be used by the Wolves as bargaining chips in trying to unload the contracts of Gorgui Dieng and Jeff Teague.
Unfortunately for the Rockets the Butler sage is not normal.
While Minnesota owner Glen Taylor has reached a détente with Butler in which he would search for a trade while the star forward remains playing for the team, any deal would have to be facilitated by the team’s president and head coach Tom Thibodeau. As has been evident to the entire league Thibodeau simply does not want to trade Butler under any circumstance. He has already sabotaged several potential trades including two with the Miami Heat that were as close as being completed before falling apart. The mess ultimately had Heat president Pat Riley walk away from trade talks in disgust.
As long as Thibodeau is still in charge with the Wolves any deal for Butler, even as enticing as this current Houston offer is, is unlikely to come to fruition.
Note: This piece also appears over at Spectator Magazine