Jimmy Butler to Raptors – a trade worth pursuing?

Jimmy Butler & Kyle Lowry - (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jimmy Butler & Kyle Lowry - (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Timberwolves are in the midst of a public schism between ownership and basketball management. Can the Raptors take advantage with a one-sided trade offer?

The destination of Minnesota Timberwolves swingman Jimmy Butler has yet to be decided. There are supposedly several teams in the mix, though whether that means much more than a GM to GM courtesy call is tough to know.

Butler has made his desire to be moved eminently clear, so his being in play is not one of those puffed-up tales invented by the trade press. Whatever team he goes to will certainly benefit, at least for this season. He’s got a short list of places (Miami, Brooklyn, the Clippers) he wants to suit up for long term, and good luck to the rest of you.

A column in The Ringer urges Raptors GM Masai Ujiri to acquire Butler. The author’s argument can be boiled down to this: Toronto isn’t winning the East with Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard, but might if Butler is in and Lowry is out, i.e., moved to the ‘Wolves.

Presumably Lowry would have to be the centrepiece of any trade. I can’t see Masai being so in love with Butler that he would offer a collection of our kids (no, please don’t do that!) to acquire him. The Ringer’s post blithely assumes the Raptors will fill the cart with goodies (Lowry, a youngster and draft pick(s)), and doesn’t deal with the salary-matching issue.

Here’s the only trade that actually works:

The Trade Machine’s PER-heavy algorithm concludes the Raptors would be better by eight games, while the ‘Wolves would slide by nine. I can’t recall such a huge discrepancy in all the trades I’ve created, and I think it’s accurate.

Related Story. More on Butler to Raps. light

Related Story. And still more (no Groupthink here!) about Butler to Raps. light

It’s not Thibs’ money

The Minnesota front-office situation is extremely fraught with tension these days. In brief, team owner Glen Taylor wants Butler gone, yesterday, while the hoops top guy, Tom Thibodeau, is fighting a delaying action. Thibs thinks he can change Jimmy’s mind, but it may not matter. The deal I’ve suggested might well appeal to Taylor, who has taken the unprecedented step of informing other teams to call him directly with offers.

Maybe the Raptors would sweeten the deal by adding one or more of the plethora of swingmen under contract, or a future draft pick (though we haven’t many of those left). A throw-in or two wouldn’t appease Thibs, whose authority as Minny’s President of Basketball Operations would be fatally undercut. He’d probably resign about five minutes after the trade was announced.

That’s their problem. I’m concerned with whether this trade makes sense for the Raptors, no matter how far-fetched it may seem (owners do crazy things on occasion – just ask Knicks fans). Yes, it does. As much as I would hate to see further upheaval, Masai would have to give this trade serious consideration.