Since the 2018 NBA offseason started, rumors and speculations have continued to swirl that All-Star forward Jimmy Butler is no longer happy with the Minnesota Timberwolves. After the Timberwolves suffered an early exit in the Western Conference Playoffs, Butler expressed his frustration with his young teammates, specifically Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. His decision not to sign a contract extension with the Timberwolves heated up the speculations that he is planning to leave next summer as an unrestricted free agent.
Jimmy Butler is currently in his prime, and it will not be wise for him to spend it on a team who is not considered a legitimate title contender. If Butler leaves Minnesota in 2019 NBA free agency, one of his potential destinations is the Los Angeles Lakers. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, the 28-year-old small forward is “open to the idea” of teaming with LeBron James in Los Angeles next summer.
“Outside of Leonard, Cousins and Butler may be the most likely to switch teams. Per a source close to Butler, he’s open to the idea of moving on from the Timberwolves to play alongside James in Los Angeles.”
Jimmy Butler is one of the best two-way players in the league. Pairing him with LeBron James will undeniably increase the Lakers’ chance of winning an NBA championship. In the 59 games he played with the Timberwolves last season, the All-Star forward averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.0 steals on 47.4 percent shooting from the field, and 35 percent from beyond the arc.
Even with the addition of LeBron James in free agency, the Lakers’ roster, as currently constructed, are not in a position to challenge the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors in a best-of-seven series. However, Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka already revealed their plan to chase another big name in 2019 NBA free agency. The Lakers purposely signed Rajon Rondo, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Lance Stephenson, JaVale McGee, and Michael Beasley to one-year contracts to maintain their salary cap flexibility for the summer of 2019.
If they succeed to get rid of Luol Deng and his lucrative deal, the Lakers will have enough salary cap space to give Jimmy Butler a maximum contract. In the past months, there are speculations that Butler and his Team USA teammate Kyrie Irving want to play together in one team. However, if Butler signs with the Lakers, Pincus said that Irving is highly unlikely to reunite with his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate LeBron James in Los Angeles.