The Knicks are committed to a long-term rebuilding plan, but a chance to get Jimmy Butler at a bargain price might change their minds, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New York was one of three preferred locations Butler gave to Timberwolves officials today when he asked to be traded. The Nets and Clippers, also big-market teams, were the other two.
Knicks president Steve Mills provided a window into the team’s thinking Monday when he said the team wouldn’t give up valuable assets in exchange for a player about to enter free agency. Butler expressed a willingness to re-sign with any of the three teams on his list, although he’s going to want a five-year max deal.
Butler’s impending free agent should help drive down the price and could force Minnesota to take far less than his normal value. Berman suggests Courtney Lee would be part of any offer, along with Tim Hardaway if the Knicks feel good about their chance to attract Kyrie Irving in free agency next summer. Berman warns that their reluctance to part with first-round picks or point guard Frank Ntilikina will make it difficult for the Knicks to get a deal done.
There’s more from the Atlantic Division:
- The Knicks will have a three-way battle for the starting point guard spot in training camp and Trey Burke is confident that he’ll come out on top, Berman writes in a separate story. Burke, Ntilikina and Emmanuel Mudiay, who all saw significant playing time last season, will be in an open competition for starting honors when camp opens next week. “I think all three point guards go in with the right mentality,” Burke said. “We know we’re going to be competing with each other. We also know we’re on the same team and we’ll be making each other better while we’re competing. That’s win, win, win. We’re all looking forward to it. I know I am.”
- Raptors president Masai Ujiri understands the strong friendship between Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, but he doesn’t expect the trade that split up Toronto’s longtime backcourt to have any effect on Lowry’s play, relays Doug Smith of The Toronto Star. “That [trade] was a blow to him,” Ujiri said. “I think basketball-wise Kyle is always ready, he’s always going to be ready, he’s training hard and he’ll be ready.”
- Celtics center Daniel Theis made amazing progress as a 3-point shooter before a meniscus injury cut short his season in March, notes A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston. Theis was just 5 for 26 [19.2%] from long distance from October to December, but improved to 13 of 32 [40.6%] over the rest of the year. Theis has fully recovered from surgery and is expected to be cleared for all basketball activities by the start of camp.