The Houston Rockets are getting more serious about bringing Jimmy Butler to their team. They’re so serious, in fact, that they’re willing to give up four future first-round picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Butler.
League rules state that teams can’t trade first-round picks in consecutive years. Going further, they’re also not allowed to deal a pick further than seven seasons into the future.
This has required Houston to get very creative in their offer by spreading the picks out every two years, up to seven seasons. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Rockets would deal their first-round picks in 2019, 2021, 2023, and 2025.
This offer is even riskier for the Rockets when considering that the picks come with little protection. Draft selections can’t be protected when they’re dealt in alternating years, unless the protection allows for a pick to roll over to the next season.
Butler Would Need to Commit to the Rockets Long Term
The tricky thing about trading for Jimmy Butler is that he’s a free agent at the end of the season. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that the Rockets would make this trade and risk their future if they don’t gain a long-term commitment from the All-Star shooting guard.
The upside, though, is that he would be a third elite player teaming up with Chris Paul and James Harden. This trio might actually have a chance to beat the Golden State Warriors, who’ve dominated the Western Conference in recent years.
They had a chance to get past the Warriors in last year’s Western Conference Finals. But they blew a 3-2 lead after Paul got injured. Furthermore, they lost Luc Mbah a Moute and Trevor Ariza through free agency this summer.
The team did manage to sign Carmelo Anthony during free agency. But Butler would be a much bigger deal if he’s added to the Rockets.
Houston Must Weigh Future Against Getting Butler Now
Again, there’s incredible risk in Houston trading their top draft selections seven years out in exchange for players who may or may not take them to the next level.
The last time that draft selections were traded in this magnitude was when the Brooklyn Nets made a deal with the Boston Celtics to bring in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.
The Nets are still paying for this deal five years later, because they didn’t win a championship with Pierce and Garnett, and they’ve missed out on several high lottery picks in the aftermath. Boston, meanwhile, turned two of these selections into Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – both of whom have All-Star potential.
Morey is certainly no idiot and understands the implications of giving away four first-rounders. Nevertheless, an aggressive move for Butler may be the only way to become a serious threat to the Warriors this season and beyond.