The 2018-19 NBA season could be the last season that the Brooklyn Nets won’t have a legitimate NBA superstar on their roster as they are expected to chase big names in the summer of 2019. The Nets are currently in a strong position to open enough salary space for two maximum-salaried players. The 2019 NBA free agency will be loaded with several NBA superstars like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard, Kemba Walker, DeMarcus Cousins, and DeAndre Jordan.
Aside from being big players in July 2019, the Nets also have a plethora of trade assets to engage in a blockbuster deal before the February NBA trade deadline. One of their potential trade targets is Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves. After months filled with drama and frustrations, the 29-year-old small forward has recently demanded a trade from the Timberwolves and gave a list of his preferred trade destinations, including the Nets.
However, though Butler is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau made it clear that they have no plan to make a bad deal and still expect a good return. In a potential trade deal with the Nets, Haley O’Shaughnessy of The Ringer thinks the Timberwolves could ask for a trade package including D’Angelo Russell, Caris LeVert, and future draft picks.
“Isn’t a star what GM Sean Marks keeps the Nets payroll so flexible for? Brooklyn reportedly cut off Minnesota after it asked for Russell, Caris LeVert, and picks. So far, the Nets have declined to extend Russell’s rookie contract, which would make the 22-year-old a restricted free agent next summer. There’s already a stigma attached to Russell, but there’s unignorable potential. The 22-year-old seems like he’s trying to be a better student of the game, or at least make Kenny Atkinson happy.”
— Shlomo Sprung (@SprungOnSports) September 28, 2018
The potential deal allows the Timberwolves to acquire two young and promising talents who can help the team remain competitive in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Those assets are definitely enough to compensate for the valuable trade pieces they sacrificed when they acquired Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls last summer. D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert will be an incredible addition to the Timberwolves since they fit the timeline of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Acquiring a superstar is undeniably tempting for a rebuilding team like the Nets who already want to end their playoff drought. Trading for Jimmy Butler will also increase their chance of becoming an attractive destination for superstar free agents next summer. However, as The Ringer noted, the Nets have already passed on trading D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert for the Timberwolves’ disgruntled superstar.