After losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the recent free agency, the Houston Rockets have been aggressive on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded player to fill the hole in their wing. One of their top trade targets is Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Since Butler demanded a trade, the Rockets have expressed a strong interest in adding him to their team.
More than a week after the 2018-19 NBA season started, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Rockets are making a “renewed bid” on Jimmy Butler and reportedly offered a trade package including four first-round picks.
“Houston’s push represents a desire to sacrifice some long-term roster flexibility and go all-in with a legitimate third star to partner with All-NBA guards James Harden and Chris Paul in pursuit of a championship. The Rockets’ offer constitutes the maximum number of first-round picks allowable in a deal, factoring in league rules that necessitate no first-rounders can be conveyed in successive years, and no pick can be traded farther out than seven seasons. The lottery protections on picks in this proposed deal would be limited. Discussions on the players involved in the Minnesota-Houston talks remain fluid, league sources said.”
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 25, 2018
On the same report, Woj revealed that league sources told ESPN‘s Zach Lowe that the key date in the Rockets’ pursuit of Jimmy Butler will be October 31 — exactly two months since they acquired Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss from the Phoenix Suns. On that date, the Rockets will be allowed to include one or both players in the trade package that they could send to the Timberwolves for Butler.
It’s no surprise why the Rockets are still not giving up in acquiring Jimmy Butler. Early in the 2018-19 NBA season, the Rockets are already feeling the effect of the departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. From being ranked as the No. 6 team in defensive efficiency last season, the Rockets are currently 22nd in the league, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.
Jimmy Butler will not only boost the Rockets’ performance on the defensive end of the floor, but he will also give them a very reliable scoring option next to James Harden and Chris Paul. This season, Butler is averaging 24.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 steals, and 1.3 blocks on 53.3 percent shooting from the field and 42.9 percent from beyond the arc. The potential acquisition of Butler will give the Rockets a better chance of challenging the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors for Western Conference supremacy.