Jimmy Butler gave the Timberwolves a list of three preferred destinations, but the Clippers stand out as his first pick, tweets ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. L.A. may have more than $56MM in cap room next summer, and Butler likes the idea of teaming with other established stars.
The Clippers have very little salary committed beyond the upcoming season apart from Danilo Gallinari, who will make $22.6MM in 2019/20 on an expiring contract. Avery Bradley has a $12.96MM non-guaranteed deal for that same season, and the team will have to decide whether to extend a $7.875MM qualifying offer to Milos Teodosic. The only other significant salaries beyond this year are $8MM for Lou Williams and $6MM for Montrezl Harrell, whose deals both expire after the 2019/20 season.
The ideal scenario for the Clippers would be to send Gallinari to the Wolves as part of the trade for Butler, notes Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report. L.A. also has significant expiring contracts to offer in Tobias Harris ($14.8MM) and Marcin Gortat ($15.57MM), along with a pair of 2018 first-round draft picks in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson.
A multi-player deal could ease the contract logjam the Clippers are carrying into camp. L.A. has 15 players with guaranteed money, along with a partially guaranteed salary for Tyrone Wallace and a non-guaranteed deal for Patrick Beverley. If a trade opens another roster spot or two, it could remove the incentive for a rumored deal that would send Beverley to the Suns.
There will be plenty of talent for the Clippers to target on next year’s free agent market, but Kawhi Leonard seems like the most natural fit. Leonard’s desire to play in L.A. reportedly led to his departure from San Antonio, and he and Butler could form a frightening tandem for the Clippers on both ends of the court.