Since losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the recent free agency, the Houston Rockets have been active on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded player to fill their hole in the wing. The Rockets may have acquired Carmelo Anthony from the buyout market, but the 10-time NBA All-Star can’t replicate Ariza or Mbah a Moute’s performance on the defensive end of the floor.
So far, one of the Rockets’ top trade targets is Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Rockets have already offered the Timberwolves a trade package including four first-round picks, showing how determined they are in adding Butler to their team. Unfortunately, it seems like their offer was not enough to convince the Timberwolves to make a deal.
Marc Stein of the New York Times (courtesy of Alykhan Bijani of The Athletic) revealed that the Timberwolves don’t really have a plan to send Jimmy Butler to the Rockets. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor and Coach Tom Thibodeau are reportedly in a “strong agreement” about not wanting to trade Butler to Houston.
“The sentiment remains valid and is unlikely to change. Neither Taylor nor Thibodeau wants to be responsible for potentially elevating the Rockets to superpower status by handling Butler to a team that already boasts James Harden and Chris Paul. Yet it must be stressed that that is merely Minnesota’s very strong preference. The Wolves know they have to trade Butler eventually because they’ll lose him for nothing in free agency if they keep him beyond the Feb. 7 trade deadline. So they can only be so choosy. The Wolves, in short, want to trade Butler pretty much anywhere but Houston.”
Tyus Jones wanted to attend Duke-Kentucky, but he was having trouble finding a flight. Tyus wanted to watch his younger brother, Tre, make his NCAA debut. Jimmy Butler stepped in and got Tyus a private jet so he'd be there in person to root on his brother: https://t.co/0Wy9y5XXbZ
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) November 7, 2018
It’s easy to understand why the Timberwolves don’t want to trade Jimmy Butler to the Rockets. Butler’s arrival will undeniably put the Rockets closer to the level of the reigning NBA champions Golden State Warriors, which will make it harder for the Timberwolves to rise to the top of the Western Conference. Butler will not only boost the Rockets’ performance on the defensive end of the floor, but he will also give the Rockets a very reliable scoring option. In the eight games he played this season, the 29-year-old superstar is averaging 22.0 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 2.4 blocks, and 1.1 steals on 48.8 percent shooting from the field and 34.3 percent from beyond the arc.
So far, the Timberwolves continue to entertain offers from other NBA teams. However, Stein believes the Timberwolves would be “foolish” to pass on trading Jimmy Butler to Houston if the Rockets finally decide to include either P.J. Tucket or Eric Gordon in the deal.