As the start of the 2018-2019 NBA season draws closer, the question arises as to what will happen to Minnesota Timberwolves all-star Jimmy Butler. Butler recently expressed his desire to leave Minnesota. Though not certain, many speculate that the cause might be the discord in the locker room between Butler and teammates Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
In his request for a trade, Butler specified his preference for the Miami Heat, though he does appear open to the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Clippers, and the Brooklyn Nets.
However, with the upcoming 2019 free agent class that could include names such as Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, and Demarcus Cousins, a key factor is cap space. Out of the three teams that Butler has explicitly favored, the Nets have by far the most leeway for the 2019 free agency, with the capability to sign to max free agents.
Depending on the choices that the Clippers make, it is also possible that they can create cap space from $50-60 million. This leaves the Knicks as the team least prepared to make significant moves in the 2019 free agency.
The Timberwolves management has also expressed that they have committed to finding a new home for Butler. Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has made it apparent that Butler will most likely not be playing again in a Wolves jersey and is seeking to finalize a trade as soon as possible.
According to league sources, there are many organizations interested in attempting to craft a deal for Butler; the list includes Brooklyn, the LA Clippers, Houston, Portland, Miami, Philadelphia, Detroit, and potentially even Cleveland.
Though many of these teams seem open to taking a risk on Butler’s one-year contract and can provide reasonable packages of veterans and budding stars, the best situation for Butler’s career and a chance at a title is elsewhere.
New York, or “the Mecca of basketball” is where Butler should call his home for the years to follow. Some may argue that New York lacks cap room or the sufficient player and front office capacity to support a title run with Butler as a key player.
However, the upside and the benefits far outweigh the potential downsides to a move to New York.
First and foremost is the market. Butler’s three preferred destinations indicate that he wants to be in a big market with the potential to sign marquee free agents in the coming years. What better place to do that than New York?
The pressure, but also the thrill and marketing opportunities provided by the Knicks organization is practically unrivaled. For Butler, New York could be the perfect stage to build his brand, something that could serve him well even the long-term future.
Along with the business aspect of the Big Apple comes the attitude towards basketball. Though perhaps subdued in recent years, there is an edge to basketball in New York that complements who Butler is: a talented but gritty, hardworking two-way star. And, with the change in head coaching with the signing of Dave Fizdale, the hard-nosed no-nonsense basketball seems to be making a return to New York.
Moreover, the current roster construction of the Knicks fits Butler. If Kristaps Porzingis returns healthy, the Knicks have a definite all-star at the power forward spot, a potential “three-and-d” player in Kevin Knox, and many more growing players, including Mitchell Robinson (C), Emmanuel Mudiay (PG) and more.
New York may not be a championship team now, but they have great potential for improvement and have the culture, history, and market to attract other free agents. All things considered, for both his brand and ultimately for a shot at a ring, New York is the place for Jimmy Butler to be.
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