After news first broke earlier this week about Jimmy Butler scheduling a meeting with Timberwolves President and head coach Tom Thibodeau, it was fair to assume a trade request was coming. Well, two days later, we finally have our answer as Butler wants to leave Minnesota for one of these three destinations: Brooklyn, Los Angeles (Clippers) and New York. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Miami Heat have also tried to get involved with Butler but don’t have the requisite amount of cap space to make it work.
Last summer, Paul George was hellbent on joining the Los Angeles Lakers via trade from Indiana, but the Pacers refused to oblige sending him to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis. About 14 months later, Butler himself is eyeing a big market to not only build his brand but recruit another star with him to compete immediately.
The Phoenix Suns didn’t make the cut for Butler, but they could be one of few teams that could help facilitate deals that are win-win for all sides involved.
As we all know, the Suns have been hunting for starting-quality point guards since trading Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss to Houston last month. Well, Los Angeles and Brooklyn have two of the three point guards that Phoenix has reportedly pursued in trade talks: Patrick Beverley and Spencer Dinwiddie.
With that being said, I believe Phoenix has a nice opportunity to capitalize on this huge news by snagging their eventual starting point guard. This is a perfect opportunity for Phoenix to not only fill their most pressing need, but help facilitate the biggest trade of the summer in the process.
Here are three scenarios I laid out below, as far as what could happen if the Suns get involved in these talks to obtain their backcourt partner for Devin Booker and the rest of the Suns’ young core.
Scenario 1: Butler lands in Brooklyn
Nets - Jimmy Butler, Troy Daniels
Timberwolves - T.J. Warren, Caris LeVert, 2019 Nuggets 1st via Nets, 2019 Suns 2nd
Suns - Spencer Dinwiddie, DeMarre Carroll
This one is by far one of my favorites, in terms of everyone walking out as possible winners. Butler ends up a Net while they send out LeVert, Dinwiddie, Carroll and their first-round pick from Denver. Meanwhile, Phoenix ships Warren to Minnesota as one of the main pieces involved.
Why would all sides do this? Well, Brooklyn still keeps around D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Jarrett Allen, who would start alongside Butler. Minnesota gets Warren and LeVert, two players who could fill long term starting roles down the line (Warren at power forward, LeVert at shooting guard) plus a pick likely falling in the top 20 from the Nuggets. All of the sudden, Minnesota has Teague-LeVert-Wiggins-Warren-Towns as their starting with two first-rounders in the 2019 draft.
For Phoenix, this deal is self explanatory because they not only get Dinwiddie to become their starting PG, but they get off Warren’s contract which lasts through 2022. The Suns would have over $40 million in cap space for next summer if they dealt Warren and stretched the final year of Ryan Anderson’s deal.
Scenario 2: Butler fulfills his LA wish
Clippers - Jimmy Butler
Timberwolves - Tobias Harris, Troy Daniels, 2020 Clippers 1st, 2019 Suns 2nd
Suns - Patrick Beverley
As was reported earlier this week, the Suns have locked in on Beverley being their answer in this point guard search. Here, the Suns get him for the cost of Troy Daniels and a second-round pick while Butler lands at one his preferred destinations on the west coast.
In comparison to Brooklyn, who could offer up LeVert or Hollis-Jefferson, Los Angeles can unload Tobias Harris’ expiring and a future first in 2020 as Boston lands it this year if they make the playoffs. On paper, Harris fits way better than Warren as the Timberwolves’ stretch-four paired next to Towns.
Beverley would step into Phoenix’s system helping reset their culture with two former teammates from Houston. If the Suns started the following unit — Beverley, Booker, Ariza, Anderson and Deandre Ayton —that’s one that lands them around 35 wins this season and out of the lottery cellar.
Scenario 3: Suns facilitate deal and rewarded with Tyus Jones
Clippers - Jimmy Butler
Timberwolves - Tobias Harris, Patrick Beverley, Troy Daniels, 2020 Clippers 1st, 2019 Suns 2nd
Suns - Tyus Jones
This deal is the exact same as the one mentioned right above it, but this time it sends Beverley to Minnesota, which pushes Jones out of their plans. Throwing in Beverley’s salary does nothing to interfere with Harris and Daniels, so this could potentially intrigue somebody like Thibodeau as more shooting and toughness is added into their roster.
I would list this proposed trade as the least likely of the three, because I can’t see Minnesota giving up on Jones but after re-signing Derrick Rose and keeping Jeff Teague around, where will those minutes consistently come from? This is where the Suns could swoop in and acquire the 22-year-old point guard who will become a restricted free agent following this season.
Phoenix’s backcourt situation was going to resolve itself before training camp began next week, but Butler requesting out and mentioning Brooklyn and Los Angeles could help them land their primary targets easier than expected.
Who knows, maybe the Suns are like the Thunder from last season offering up a deal Minnesota can’t refuse for Butler. George didn’t have Oklahoma City as one of his choices, but look what happened a year later.
Since we’re on the topic of that, all I would offer to see what would happen is Warren, Dragan Bender, 2019 Suns 1st and 2020 Bucks 1st. If the Timberwolves are somehow intrigued by that, you move deeper into discussions while preserving all of the young core for someone labeled as a rental.
Whichever way you slice it, the Butler news only helps a team like the Suns. Now, we wait for whatever happens next, because all indications are this could be something that reaches its conclusion by training camp next week.