Eric Gordon Would Have to Be Included in Any Jimmy Butler Trade

eric-gordon-rocketsThe Houston Rockets are currently very serious about trading for Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler. I recently reported how they offered four future first-round picks for Butler. They’ve also included Brandon Knight and Marqueese Chriss in these talks.

It doesn’t appear that Minnesota is interested in this deal. They instead want all potential offers to include Rockets guard Eric Gordon.

Minnesota General Manager Scott Layden and head coach Tom Thibodeau both want the team to remain competitive if they do indeed deal butler. Thibodeau wants his team back in the playoffs after they grabbed the No. 8 seed last season.

Adding Gordon – rather than just draft picks and role players – would definitely align with this vision. Gordon is one of the best shooters in the NBA and could ease the impact of losing Butler.

Layden Ultimately Responsible for Finding Trade Partner

Thibodeau obviously has a lot of sway in who Minnesota is willing to deal with. But team owner Glenn Taylor wants Layden to focus on the trade while Thibodeau coaches the team.

So far, the franchise has failed to find a deal that interests them. The Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers’ have made offers for Butler. However, like the Rockets, Minnesota hasn’t jumped at their proposals either.

jimmy-butler-timberwolves-rocketsIt’s unlikely that the T-Wolves will ever take the four picks offer from Houston. They especially don’t like this deal when considering that they’d take on Knight’s bad contract in the process.

Again, they’re looking to keep a competitive team around stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This is a big reason why they want to add Gordon in any potential deal.

Of course, the key reason why Houston wants to make this deal is to become better than the reigning conference champion Golden State Warriors.

They’re willing to mortgage their future in order to make this happen. But it’s unclear if they’ll give up a key piece like Gorden.

Did Minnesota Leak the Gordon Trade Offer?

Speculation is that Minnesota has leaked the Rockets’ offer to motivate other suitors to increase their potential deals.

Miami thought they had a deal in place after offering Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected 2019 first-round pick. However, Thibodeau and Layden wanted more at the last second, which caused Miami’s Pat Riley to coll off on the talks.

Philadelphia has quite a bit of young talent, including point guard Ben Simmons, center Joel Embiid, and guard Markelle Fultz. The Sixers are highly unlikely to part with Simmons or Embidd. But they might be willing to include Fultz – assuming Thibodeau would even be okay with this.

Multiple sources claim that Taylor wants to get a deal finished as quickly as possible. But if the team actually wanted this to happen, it would be done already.

That said, expect the Butler saga to continue playing out for more of the season. Minnesota obviously places a high value on their All-Star shooting guard, and they’re not going to give him up for just any deal.

Rockets Willing to Give 4 First Rounders for Jimmy Butler

jimmy-butler-rockets-four-first-roundersThe 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.

jimmy-butler-2018-injury-returnMuch of this deal will hinge on Butler agreeing to a long-term contract with Houston. They might also have to make additional deals in order to free up cap space for Butler’s impending contract.

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.

Could Jimmy Butler Be the Missing Piece for the Houston Rockets?

jimmy-butler-timberwolves-rocketsThe Houston Rockets had a rough start to free agency, losing forwards Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute. They’ve since added James Ennis, Marquese Chriss, Carmelo Anthony, Brandon Knight, and Michael Carter-Williams. But these players don’t exactly seem like they’ll keep Houston’s defensive prowess up (sixth in defensive efficiency last season).

That said, Houston has been looking for a two-way impact player who can help them realize what they just barely missed out on last season – an NBA championship appearance. Rockets GM Daryl Morey hasn’t let off the gas in looking for this player.

“We need our best team on April 15,” he said, likely suggesting that Houston must beat Golden State in order to take the Western Conference.

Considering Morey’s words, it’s no surprise that the Rockets are one of the teams that have expressed interest in Jimmy Butler. The Minnesota Timberwolves Guard/forward has requested a trade out of Minnesota.

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is pushing for Butler to be traded, hopefully before the season starts.

General manager Scott Layden and head coach/president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau want the franchise to take its time with this matter. They want potential suitors to come to them and offer a serious trade proposal.

Houston Has Some Competition in the Jimmy Butler Sweepstakes

Miami, Brooklyn, and the LA Clippers have also expressed interest in bringing Butler to their teams. Here’s what ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports on the matter:

It’s likely that one or more of these teams have more assets on the surface to offer Minnesota. But Morey is quite good at figuring out ways to get players for less.

He put a nice trade package together to get James Harden away from the Oklahoma City Thunder. He created the “poison pill” contracts that brought in Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin in 2012. He waived or traded players like Royce White, James Anderson, Thomas Robinson, and Furkan Aldemir to create enough cap space to sign Dwight Howard in 2013.

Other inventive moves by Morey include the three-team, six-player deal that brought Ariza to Houston in 2014, and accumulating non-guaranteed contracts to build a large enough trade package to land Chris Paul in 2017.

The last move was quite incredible when considering that Morey sent a bunch of bench players and lower draft picks to the Clippers in return for a game-changing point guard.

“There’s always fine-tuning, you can always get better,” said Morey. “We have all our draft picks going forward.

“So if something presents itself that allows us to make a trade to improve the team, we won’t hesitate to do that.”

What can the Rockets Offer for Jimmy Butler?

daryl-morey-rocketsIt’s great what Houston’s front office has been able to do over the last few years. But what can they currently offer to bring in Butler?

One speculated move involves sending Sixth Man of the Year Erik Gordon, forward P.J. Tucker, and an unprotected first-round pick to Minnesota. Gordon and Tucker would help the Twolves immediately, while the first-round pick would enable them to add more talent in the future.

Minnesota could also get rid of a bad contract in the process, including reserve big man Gorgui Dieng, who’s still due $48.7 million over the next three years.

Of course, the problem with this is that Houston must involve a third team (and potentially fourth), because they don’t have a lot of salary cap space either. Morey shouldn’t have a problem getting this done, though, when looking at the deals he’s worked in the past.

Another problem is that they’ll have to give away another one or two rotational pieces in order to land Butler. That said, they’d be working with a team of three stars in Paul, Harden, and Butler, along with several backups who must be integrated.

Is Butler Worth the Cost?

jimmy-butler-2018-injury-returnEverything that Houston is currently doing is under the goal of beating the Golden State Warriors next season. And Butler would certainly give them a better chance to topple the Warriors.

The question, though, is whether what they’d be giving up is worth it. Odds are that, yes, the Rockets would improve if they got Butler for the cost of Tucker and Gordon.

But you also have to factor in the loss of Ariza and Mbah a Moute, who were instrumental in helping this team improve from 18th to 6th in defensive efficiency last season.

Depth is obviously important, as the Warriors have shown. But so is having star players, which the Rockets showed by unloading several veterans in exchange for Paul. Assuming Morey can put together a deal that brings Butler in, it should help the Rockets get better on offense and defense. The major question would be if they can integrate all their new pieces in time for the playoffs.

Houston Rockets Odds in 2018-19

Houston currently trails Golden State by a sizable margin in our GTBets odds. But the Rockets still have the second-best odds of winning the conference at the time of this post.

Here’s a look at our current 2018-19 NBA Western Conference odds:

  • Dallas +10000
  • Denver +5000
  • Golden State -245
  • Houston +500
  • LA Clippers +10000
  • LA Lakers +800
  • Memphis +15000
  • Minnesota +4000
  • New Orleans +4500
  • Oklahoma City +2200
  • Phoenix +10000
  • Portland +5000
  • Sacramento +25000
  • San Antonio +4000
  • Utah +2500

Assuming the Rockets can make a trade for Butler, it would likely inch them forward in the odds category. Maybe not enough to match the Warriors, but definitely closer.

It’ll be interesting to see if Morey can work his magic again and get Butler on this team.