The Jimmy Butler saga was one that lasted throughout the offseason and even into the early portion of the regular season.
It finally came to a close last weekend when the Minnesota Timberwolves finally traded Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a second round pick. However, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Miami Heat were one of the top suitors to acquire Butler and their best offer consisted of Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and a first round pick.
I’m told that Minnesota’s talk with the Heat largely collapsed when Thibodeau asked for a $5 million cash infusion from Miami as part of a deal that would have sent Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, and a future first rounder to the Wolves for Butler.
Throughout the majority of the process, the Heat remained involved and appeared to be very interested in getting a deal done with the Timberwolves. When the teams were negotiating a potential trade in late September, the Heat were seeking a “final resolution” as they were getting frustrated with the reluctance of the Timberwolves to want to reach a verdict on whether they wanted to trade Butler or not. It appeared on several instances throughout the Butler saga that the Timberwolves were hesitant to deal him.
Richardson was obviously the centerpiece of this deal if it would’ve been completed. The Miami guard is currently averaging 20.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.4 assists while shooting 42.6 percent from beyond the arc. Richardson scored 28 points in Friday’s loss to the Indiana Pacers as he connected on 10 of his 16 field goal attempts. The sharpshooting guard made his mark from three as he knocked down seven of his 10 attempts.
Following the 2018-19 season, Butler will be an unrestricted free agent and Philadelphia had previously expressed interest in adding Butler to make up a big three with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Sixers are confident they will get a deal done as long as it’s a smooth transition for Butler this season. Butler can sign a five-year max contract worth $190 million, while other teams could offer four years and a projected $141 million.
Shortly after news of the Butler trade broke, Philadelphia’s odds to win the NBA title went from 30-1 to 16-1 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. In addition, the team’s odds to win the Eastern Conference were bumped up from 7-1 to 3-1.
At the end of the day, the Timberwolves obviously thought that they could do better in terms of other trade offers around the NBA. However, Minnesota ultimately came away with two solid role players, but Philadelphia’s final offer ended up being devoid of a first round pick, which is why the Timberwolves have caught a fair amount of criticism for the trade.