Article Written by Hudson Stewart (@hudson_stewart6)
4-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler seems to be unhappy in Minnesota and is planning to meet with the team to discuss his future soon. It’s not completely known why Butler is upset, but it has something to do with his relationship with Karl-Anthony Towns, the centre on the Timberwolves. With these rumours swirling, many people are putting the idea out there that the Raptors should trade for Butler. In this article, I’ll explain why I don’t think that’s a good idea.
Before even talking about the Raptors, let’s talk about Jimmy Butler himself. First of all, he’s got 2 years left on his contract, making $18 million this year, and $19 million next year. His free agency year is 2020, and he’ll most likely get to that point without an extension if he remains in Minnesota. As for on the court, Butler has averaged 20 points or more in the last 4 seasons, while grabbing at least 5 rebounds per game in that time as well. He also averaged a career high 2 steals per game last year.
Now, there have been some vague rumours going on saying that the Raptors “could be” interested in Butler, and that a package going to Minnesota would start with Serge Ibaka in order to even out the money in the deal. These reports aren’t from reputable sources at all, so until I see a real report, I won’t believe that a deal is coming. Even if these “reports” aren’t true - which they probably aren’t - it raises an interesting question; should the Raptors go after another unhappy star and bring him to Toronto, like they did with Kawhi Leonard?
Something to remember about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors acquired a guy who’s a top-5 player in the league. Jimmy Butler is very good, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not in that tier. I’d put Butler in the top 15-top-20 category, but he’s not as good as Leonard is.
One of the things that I really liked about the Kawhi trade is that the Raptors didn’t have to give up OG Anunoby or Pascal Siakam; they had to trade away Jakob Poeltl. OG and Siakam both have higher ceilings than Poeltl. If the Raptors want Jimmy Butler, they’ll likely have to give up one of those two, Ibaka, and a 1st round pick, which would leave them without a 1st rounder for the next 2 seasons.
The 1st rounder that the Raptors sent to San Antonio likely won’t affect them that much, because if they finish high in the standings - which they should - then the pick will be in the mid-to-high 20’s. But once you start trading picks multiple years down the line, you’re entering a danger zone because you have no idea what will be happening in a few years and you could end being like the Brooklyn Nets; a rebuilding team that has no 1st round picks.
So, let’s say the Raptors do well this year and end up re-signing Kawhi, then you can trade your picks all you want because you have the assurance that it’ll be a low pick, and that you won’t be missing out on any top talents. But as long as you’re unsure about the future of the team, don’t mortgage anymore of your future. I say, you play this year out, and then if you can convince Kawhi to stay, go ahead and add to this team by trading away draft picks. But for now, hang onto the picks and young guys until you know for sure that Kawhi is staying.
It would definitely be pretty cool to see the Raptors go out and get another star player. But unless they can do that for a small return, I don’t think it’s a good idea. I’m interested to see where this Jimmy Butler saga goes, because he is a very good player. But as long as Kawhi’s future is unknown, the Raptors should stay away from trading away more assets in my opinion.
Follow South of the 6ix on Twitter (@SouthOfThe6ix)