When Jimmy Butler requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Houston Rockets were one of the NBA teams who expressed strong interest in adding the All-Star forward to their roster. Since losing Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute in the recent free agency, the Rockets have been aggressive on the trade market, searching for a defensive-minded player to fill the huge hole in their wing.
Jimmy Butler will undeniably be the perfect replacement for Trevor Ariza. Aside from being an incredible defender, Butler will give the Rockets a very reliable scoring option in their starting lineup next to superstars Chris Paul and James Harden. In 59 games he played with the Timberwolves last season, the 29-year-old small forward averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 2.0 steals on 47.4 percent shooting from the field and 35.0 percent from beyond the arc.
However, though Butler is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer, the Timberwolves are still demanding a good return. In order to convince the Timberwolves to make a deal, Greg Swartz of Bleacher Report suggested that the Rockets should be willing to sacrifice a trade package including Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and a 2021 first-round pick.
“In this scenario, Butler pushes the Rockets to a near-Golden State level while returning to his native Houston. Sounds perfect, right? While the Rockets are limited on trade assets, Gordon and Tucker are two very good veterans who would keep Minnesota in the playoff picture. For whatever reason, the Rockets have been reluctant to give up both, even for Butler.”
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 12, 2018
Instead of losing Jimmy Butler in the 2019 NBA free agency without getting anything in return, the proposed trade deal will allow the Timberwolves to acquire two veterans who can help them remain competitive in the upcoming 2018-19 NBA season. Eric Gordon will give them an offensive threat in the wing either in the starting lineup or second unit, while P.J. Tucker will boost the Timberwolves’ performance on the defensive end of the floor.
Meanwhile, the potential acquisition of Butler will give the Rockets a higher chance of fully dominating the deep Western Conference next season. A starting lineup featuring Chris Paul, James Harden, Butler, Carmelo Anthony, and Clint Capela will be a huge headache to any powerhouse teams in the league, even to the reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors.
When the Timberwolves failed to make a deal with the Miami Heat, Stefano Fusaro of ESPN revealed that Minnesota actually engaged in a trade negotiation with the Rockets involving Jimmy Butler, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker. However, the Rockets were reportedly reluctant to include Tucker in the trade package.