The Cavaliers have joined the trade sweepstakes for disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday.
Cavs owner Dan Gilbert was seen talking privately with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor at the NBA Board of Governors meeting on Friday, according to Wojnarowski.
Gilbert and Taylor were also involved in negotiations in August 2014 when the Cavs and Timberwolves completed a three-team trade that brought All-Star forward Kevin Love to Cleveland and sent just-drafted small forward Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota.
According to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, the Cavs were exploring the chance of acquiring Butler after the 2017 Finals, but Cavs General Manager David Griffin and Gilbert agreed to part ways on June 19. The Chicago Bulls traded Butler to the Timberwolves for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen on June 22.
A league source told the Beacon Journal that all 29 teams had likely contacted Taylor to gauge the Timberwolves' trade parameters.
Butler, 29, made his fourth All-Star Game last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists, higher than his career numbers of 16.4 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists. But according to reports, he did not get along with Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. The dysfunctional relationship with Wiggins became public via social media in recent days.
Butler will be a free agent next summer and has told the Timberwolves he does not intend to re-sign with them and wants to be traded.
Butler would be eligible to sign a five-year, $190 million contract extension with the Timberwolves or the team that acquires him in trade. His contract would drop to four years and $141 million in free agency next summer and he is obviously seeking the max deal.
According to Wojnarowski, Taylor is siding with Butler over president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, who wants to keep Butler, and Taylor is pressing to get a deal completed before the Timberwolves’ first practice on Tuesday.
Also in the trade mix for Butler are the Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings, according to Wojnarowski. He reported that the Timberwolves would use Sunday and Monday to take offers, which they would then present to Butler and his agent, Bernie Lee.
According to Wojnarowski, many of those teams are willing to take Butler without assurance that he would remain there more than one season. Such an approach may be fallout from the situation with Paul George, who wanted to play for the Los Angeles Lakers when the Indiana Pacers traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder before last season. On July 1, George agreed to a four-year, $137 million contract to remain in Oklahoma City.
The Cavs hold media day on Monday and begin practice Tuesday.
Many thought Gilbert would seek to cut his high luxury tax bill after LeBron James left the Cavs for the Lakers in early July. Love signed a four-year, $120 million contract extension in July, which meant he could not be traded for six months. He will headline a team with no certainty of making the playoffs in the post-James era.
The Cavs’ postseason chances would improve significantly by pairing Love with Butler, who carries a $20.4 million salary in 2018-19.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.