The Jimmy Butler trade saga continues.
According to a New York Times report from Marc Stein on Wednesday night, the Heat and Timberwolves were making “significant progress” this week on a deal that would have sent Butler to Miami “before deal changes proposed by Minnesota led to a breakdown in talks.” Stein added that a third team has not been involved in the trade discussions between the Heat and Timberwolves.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski followed up an hour later and reported that a deal between the Heat and Timberwolves was not imminent Wednesday night and added: “Miami, Minnesota have been consistently engaged in Jimmy Butler talks for several days, with Heat pushing Timberwolves for an answer today on a revised offer. ... Minnesota’s conversations are relatively sparse elsewhere; remain focused on Miami.”
Per Wojnarowski, Minnesota reportedly has asked for Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo and a protected 2019 No. 1 draft pick. But the Heat does not want to give up Richardson and is reluctant to trade Adebayo, according to a league source.
Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is still determined to get Butler back for the start of the season, according to Wojnarowski, but Butler has yet to indicate when he will join the team and practice but has privately indicated he doesn’t want to miss any regular season games.
Butler, 29, requested a trade from the Timberwolves last month. He has reportedly informed Minnesota that he would prefer to be traded to Miami.
Butler is set to earn $20.4 million this season and has a player option worth $19.8 million in 2019-20. He’s expected to decline the option and become a free agent, giving him the leverage to demand a trade to a team he would re-sign with next summer.
The Heat would not have the cap space to sign Butler outright as a free agent next summer if it doesn’t trade for him, with Miami already about $10 million over the projected $109 million salary cap for 2019-20.
But the Heat or any team acquiring Butler in a trade would also acquire his Bird Rights, meaning the Heat could surpass the cap to sign him to a five-year, $190 million extension. That deal would come with cap hits of $40 million and $43 million in the final two years of the deal, as ESPN’s Bobby Marks reported.
Though the preference is to keep Richardson, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk and Justise Winslow, the Heat likely would need to relinquish at least one and possibly two of those in a trade for Butler.
ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported last week that Dragic has been made available to Minnesota in trade talks.
The Heat has shopped Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson all summer.
Butler, 29, averaged 22.2 point, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season while shooting 47.4 percent from the field and 35 percent on threes. He’s been named second-team All-NBA defense four times in his career.