Less than a week to training camp and NBA media days starting next Monday, Shams Charania set the NBA world in a frenzy yesterday afternoon when he first reported the news that Jimmy Butler requested a trade and to part ways from Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves.
As the dust settled and more details came out surrounding the meeting, Jimmy Butler gave the Timberwolves three prefered teams he’d like to be dealt too and would sign an extension with. The teams were the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets, and New York Knicks.
All three front offices ears must have perked up when they heard the news. A player ESPN just ranked as the 14th best player headed into 2019 for their top 100 rankings. That is significant news for three franchises who need a star to make the next step as an organization. If one of these three acquired a player like Butler, it would almost certainly ensure that they would be a playoff team next year. All three are currently projected to miss out on the playoffs.
Acquiring a talent like Butler comes with a price and certainly risk. First, Butler is 29 years old and is going to want a max contract. The cons out way any pro there is for trading for Jimmy Butler if you’re the Knicks.
The Knicks are simply not in a situation yet to make a trade like this. The best play is continued patience and to not trade away younger players and future assets especially for a player you can sign as a free agent the next summer.
And it’s about time the Knicks front office is viewing this as the correct approach instead of attempting a quick, short term fix.
Knicks President Steve Mills, was asked last week about the teams approach to trades for players before the enter free agency. Credit to Anthony Donahue of MSG for the question but Mills response was particularly encouraging.
“We’re going to build this team the right way and what we’re not going to do is trade away assets to get a guy that we can get on our own later.”
A perfect response that should be music to Knicks fans ears. Sure, you run the risk of Butler potentially being traded and signing an extension before he hits free agency and you lose all hope of signing him but that’s a risk you have to be willing to take. Assets like Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox, and the 2019 first round pick are way too valuable to move for a piece that does not bring you closer to a championship.
With uncertainty surrounding Porzingis return from the torn ACL and with $30 million tied up each season in Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah for the next two years, the Knicks need to continue the path of developing younger players and draft pick while developing financial flexibility for future seasons.
There’s a time and a place for franchise to make a big move to jumpstart the fan base and re-energize the team. That moment is just not now for the Knicks and they’d be wise to sit out the sweepstakes unless a reasonable offer came about that was way too good to refuse.
Staying out of the sweepstakes this time around would be the best thing going forward for the franchise.
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