Was Paul George just used as a smoke screen? Yeah, Paul George was just used as a smoke screen. We just published an entire post of fake PG trades when we should have been looking elsewhere. The NBA is moving too fast for the news cycle, and it appears the flavor of the day is Jimmy Butler. Within a five-minute period, the Wolves, Suns, and Cavaliers were all linked to Butler. The Bulls won’t get rid of Butler without getting a king’s ransom in return, so what does each team have to offer?
Paolo Uggetti: The latest report from Marc Stein says the Cavaliers are trying to concoct a multi-team trade to add Butler. This follows reports from last weekend that linked the Cavaliers with George after the forward informed the Pacers that he would not be coming back after this season.
Here are a couple of things to infer from this trade rumor: Remember when LeBron said he didn’t think he’d played for a superteam in his career? Yeah, we’ll see about that in a couple of weeks. Second: Cavs GM David Griffin has been lighting up the rumor trail lately, and with good reason: LeBron is not guaranteed to stay in Cleveland, and Griffin’s contract is up soon.
Third: Unless Griffin pulls off a David Blaine–esque deal, none of these rumors have the chance to turn into trades without the inclusion of Kevin Love. So we can be assured the forward is all but gone. The Cavs have no assets — picks or young players — besides Love, so one of the key questions is: Who will be willing to facilitate this trade for them and take on Love if the Bulls want to rebuild?
Earlier this week my colleague Juliet Litman said, "Kevin Love is a great fit for the state of Arizona." I tend to agree. Get your sunscreen out, Kevin, and get ready to rebuild. In the desert you can be free.
Finally: Would adding Butler really push the Cavs over the Warriors in a hypothetical fourth installment of the Finals? No. But we’ll engineer that it does because that’s what we do.
Haley O’Shaughnessy: Per a Woj bomb Monday, the Timberwolves and Bulls made "preliminary contact" on Monday for a Jimmy Butler trade.
Tom Thibodeau has a relationship with Butler from their time together in Chicago, and the Wolves are finally stocked with the assets to trade for a player of Butler’s caliber. A 31–51 record last season landed the Wolves the seventh pick in a talented draft. But a young core needs an established veteran presence over another rookie who may not make an immediate impact. This is something Minnesota should know after Kris Dunn’s tough first season.
Wojnarowski tweeted that Chicago’s asking price "remains elevated," and while Minnesota has surely taken pieces like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins off the board, a package including Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, and the pick seems like a legitimate asking price.
Uggetti: For what feels like an eternity, the Celtics’ desire to place Jimmy Butler in a green uniform has run parallel with their seemingly unending desire to collect every asset in existence. After their trade with the Sixers on Monday, Boston’s cup runneth over with picks, and it’s no secret that alongside George, Butler may be the hypothetical star for whom Boston would relinquish them.
It appears the Celtics may be either falling behind in the arms race or being coerced to raise their offer, given Butler’s reported connections to Cleveland and Minnesota. On Monday, Danny Ainge spoke to reporters and gushed about the unnamed player they will be drafting at no. 3, whom he believes is better than Markelle Fultz.
Let’s take a moment and pray for Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum. May they be traded for Jimmy Butler rather than having to live up to that standard.