In recent weeks, Philadelphia 76ers wingman Jimmy Butler has again become a hot topic in the NBA rumor mill, following an incident where he allegedly became confrontational with head coach Brett Brown, as reported last week by ESPN. Meanwhile, New York Knicks big man Enes Kanter had also made waves recently, after being quoted by the New York Post as saying he doesn’t know why he’s being “shut down” and being asked to play a lesser role. With Butler’s issues mainly in mind, Fansided’s Hoops Habit wrote on Thursday that the Knicks could be a “realistic” destination for the 29-year-old All-Star, assuming New York is willing to part ways with Kanter and fellow big man Noah Vonleh.
According to Hoops Habit, the most likely scenario would be that Butler remains with the 76ers until the end of the 2018-19 season, assuming there aren’t any “significant” incidents that could force Philadelphia to trade him before the February deadline. But with the Knicks having enough salary cap space to acquire Butler, the struggling (10-31 win-loss record) team was brought up as a potential trade partner for the Sixers.
Talking about the ideal trade pieces the Knicks could give up in order to acquire Jimmy Butler, Hoops Habit suggested Kanter, who is averaging 14.4 points and 11 rebounds as New York’s primary reserve big man, and Vonleh, who has contributed as the Knicks’ starting power forward with averages of 8.6 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. According to Hoops Habit, Kanter could serve as an ideal backup to Joel Embiid at center, as he has shown consistency for the Knicks, regardless of whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.
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As for Vonleh, Hoops Habit described him as the “perfect hustle guy” for the Sixers, but also noted that he has yet to live up to his potential as the ninth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. He is, however, putting up solid numbers and seeing more action than usual due to Kristaps Porzingis’ ACL injury, which has kept him out of action since February of last year.
In addition to Enes Kanter and Noah Vonleh, it was also suggested that the Knicks could include a lottery-protected first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft to sweeten the deal.
While the above trade proposal is just a hypothetical scenario, Hoops Habit stressed that the deal could fill needs for both teams and “benefit [them] significantly.” However, these benefits might only come into play in the short-term, as Kanter and Vonleh are on expiring contracts, with Butler also expected to enter free agency if he opts out of the final year of his contract this summer, per Bleacher Report.