Jimmy Butler, Kawhi Leonard Favorites To Pair Up On Los Angeles Clippers After Trade Request
Jimmy Butler announced Wednesday that he would like to be traded out of Minnesota, his biggest preference being the Los Angeles Clippers, the favorite to sign Kawhi Leonard come free agency in July of 2019.
Wielding two maximum free agent slots, the Clippers are emerging as the front-runner for the All-NBA Toronto Raptors forward, something Timberwolves shooting guard Butler sees as a component of a promising future in Los Angeles. If not Leonard, a second star will be able to pair up with the guard, who told Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau that he wants to be traded. The potential for Los Angeles to offer Butler a partner with a second star player in a deep summer free agency class in 2019 is appealing to him, according to league sources.
Other options for Butler are in New York, citing the Nets and Knicks as the alternatives to Los Angeles. The Nets also have two free agent slots available for max contracts come this summer, but prefers the Knicks and Clippers. Despite all three teams standing at a relative standstill near the bottom of the NBA rankings, this summer could bring a sum of potent talent to the attractive cities. This might have been what attracted Butler in the first place, but it is also what could be a deterrent to Los Angeles.
Suppose Butler is traded for a package from Los Angeles: sure, there is a decent pool of decided veterans in Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, and Tobias Harris that Thibodeau can choose from in exchange for his all-star guard. But would Los Angeles willingly dump a core of veterans for Butler, a player that could decide not to resign come summer time? It’s all part of the front-office game in the NBA, a big risk for an even bigger reward — or none at all.