Minnesota Timberwolves

Lowe’s Latest: Butler, Nuggets, Wolves, Ibaka

Before they accepted the Timberwolves‘ offer for Jimmy Butler, the Bulls canvassed the league in search of a more appealing offer, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN.com.

Lowe writes in his latest piece for ESPN that the Bulls spoke to the Suns about a package centered around Eric Bledsoe and the No. 4 overall pick, but the two sides never really got close. Chicago also had discussions with the Nuggets and Celtics, but Denver drew the line at including Jamal Murray in any potential deal, and Boston wouldn’t include the No. 3 pick, according to Lowe.

As Lowe notes, teams like the Suns and Nuggets had to consider the fact that Butler may not have re-signed with them in free agency in 2019 if they acquired him. Although Butler’s contract would give teams an extra year of control over someone like Paul George, the star forward might still have ultimately been a rental if he didn’t love where he ended up. That cooled the market somewhat, as the Bulls explored potential trade scenarios.

Here’s more from Lowe’s latest piece:

  • The Bulls were never entirely comfortable with the idea of Butler as their foundational player, says Lowe. A source tells ESPN that Butler’s bristling at Fred Hoiberg‘s instructions made some people on the team uncomfortable. Lowe suggests that Hoiberg’s calm personality wasn’t a good match for Butler, who requires a coach more like Tom Thibodeau.
  • At one point, the Timberwolves were intrigued by the possibility of pursuing Serge Ibaka in free agency, but their interest “has faded a bit,” according to Lowe, who adds that most teams expect Ibaka to re-sign with the Raptors.
  • The Lakers were dangling a future unprotected first-round pick to teams with cap room recently in an effort to move the Timofey Mozgov and Luol Deng contracts, per Lowe. The earliest first-round pick the Lakers could trade at this point is 2020’s selection, so it’s understandable that D’Angelo Russell appealed more to the Nets than a pick that far down the road.

Wolves Planning To Hang Onto Ricky Rubio?

JUNE 23, 9:46am: Appearing on KFAN FM 100.3 in Minnesota, Timberwolves GM Scott Layden suggested this morning that the team is planning on keeping Rubio, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Associated Press (Twitter links). Krawczynski acknowledges that things could always change, but says Layden praised Rubio’s second half and added that the point guard will “have a great career here.”

JUNE 22, 8:22pm: After completing the night’s biggest blockbuster, the Timberwolves continue to seek a trade involving Ricky Rubio, reports Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today (via Twitter). According to Zillgitt, the Wolves would plan on finding a new point guard in free agency if they make a deal involving Rubio.

[RELATED: Bulls agree to trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves]

In their deal with the Bulls, the Wolves included last year’s fifth overall pick Kris Dunn, who was viewed as Minnesota’s potential point guard of the future. That would appear to open the door for Rubio to hold the job for the foreseeable future without having to look over his shoulder — particularly since another one of the team’s top ball-handlers, Zach LaVine, was sent to Chicago as well. However, it seems that the Wolves may have their eye on another point guard for next season.

Rubio has been linked to a handful of teams in recent months, including the Mavericks, Pistons, and Knicks. One interesting potential trade partner for the Wolves is Utah. The Jazz were reportedly discussing Rubio earlier in the day, and have enough cap room to acquire the veteran point guard immediately without sending out any salary. If the Jazz were to land Rubio, that would likely pave the way for George Hill‘s exit in free agency.

Bulls Trade Jimmy Butler To Timberwolves

JUNE 22, 8:58pm: The trade is now official, with commissioner Adam Silver announcing it during the TV broadcast of tonight’s draft. The Wolves used the No. 16 pick on Creighton’s Justin Patton to complete the deal.

6:44pm: The Timberwolves are set to acquire Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, with K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune tweeting that the two sides have reached an agreement in principle on a Butler deal.Jimmy Butler vertical

According to Johnson (via Twitter), the Bulls will receive Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the No. 7 overall pick. The Wolves will also receive the No. 16 selection from Chicago. Marc Stein of ESPN.com (via Twitter) first reported that a deal was close.

The deal reunites Butler with Tom Thibodeau, his former coach in Chicago, who now serves as coach and president of basketball operations in Minnesota. Butler has been an All-Star the past three seasons and averaged 23.9 points and 6.2 rebounds with the Bulls this year.

The Timberwolves are taking on much more salary in the deal than they are unloading. They had about $24MM in available cap room after waiving Nikola Pekovic on Tuesday and receiving cap relief for his remaining salary.

Butler has three seasons left on the $95MM deal he signed with the Bulls in 2015. He is due to make nearly $18.7MM next year and more than $19.8MM in both 2018/19 and 2019/20. He also has a 5% trade bonus in his contract, tweets Bobby Marks of The Vertical, giving him an extra $1.8MM over the next three seasons.

In return, the Bulls will receive LaVine, a promising 22-year-old combo guard whose season ended in early February when he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee; and Dunn, the fifth overall pick last year. Both players are on rookie contracts and were discussed when the two teams talked about a Butler trade a year ago. Chicago will also land Lauri Markkanen, the seventh overall pick.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cooke, Beachem Agree To Deals With Wolves

Dayton’s Charles Cooke has agreed to a free agent contract with the Timberwolves, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.com. The 6’5″ senior averaged 15.7 points per game with the Flyers this year, but wasn’t listed among the Draft Express top 100 prospects.

The Wolves also reached an agreement with Notre Dame senior small forward V.J. Beachem, according to David Aldridge of TNT (Twitter link). Beachem averaged 14.5 points per night and is 67th on the Draft Express list. Neither deal can become official until after July 1st, per league rules.

Minnesota dealt away Zach LaVine in tonight’s trade for Jimmy Butler, so there may be an opportunity for Cooke or Beachem to make a run at a roster spot.

 

Celtics’ Paul George Talks Stalled After Gaining Momentum

8:07pm: Discussions between the Pacers and Celtics on George have stalled for now, according to Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

7:06pm: The Pacers and Celtics are engaged in “serious” discussions about a potential Paul George trade, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). While the sides remain apart on a potential deal, talks have gained momentum, per Wojnarowski (via Twitter).

The Celtics used their third overall pick tonight to select Jayson Tatum. If the Pacers and C’s can come to an agreement on a George deal, it’s not clear whether or not Tatum will be involved in the swap.

George is one of the top trade candidates available now that Jimmy Butler is now off the board, with the Bulls having reached an agreement to send him to the Timberwolves. Before finalizing that deal, the Pacers and Wolves discussed a deal involving George, tweets Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 in Minneapolis. The Pacers asked for Zach LaVine and more in return, which Minnesota refused, opting for Butler instead.

The Rockets also haven’t given up their pursuit of George, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. I’d expect the Lakers to check back in as well if a deal appears close.

Arthur Hill contributed to this post.

Timberwolves Remain In Mix For Jimmy Butler

The Timberwolves and Bulls have been engaged throughout the day on a potential Jimmy Butler trade, Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania reported on The Vertical’s live show tonight. According to Wojnarowski, Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn are among the players that have been discussed in those talks, along with draft picks.

While any executives around the league believe the most likely scenario involves Butler staying in Chicago, those execs believe that if the All-NBA forward goes anywhere tonight, it will be Minnesota, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News (Twitter link).

Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders passes along an interesting note on the Timberwolves, tweeting that the NBA has confirmed Nikola Pekovic‘s 2016/17 salary is no longer on the club’s cap. That means that Minnesota has about $24MM in cap room tonight, which could be very convenient when it comes to getting a trade done — the team wouldn’t necessarily have to match salaries for incoming players.

The Celtics, Suns, Nuggets, and Cavaliers have also been linked to Butler this week, though Boston isn’t currently believed to be in the mix.

Jazz Rumors: Beverley, Rubio, Draft, Favors

The Jazz continued this afternoon to engage in talks for Rockets point guard Patrick Beverley, according to Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune, who notes (via Twitter) that Utah also has another point guard on its radar.

It’s possible that other point guard is Timberwolves veteran Ricky Rubio. Jody Genessy of The Deseret News reports that Utah has explored the possibility of acquiring Rubio in a trade. However, Genessy acknowledges that there’s no traction on that front for now.

Here are several more Jazz-related rumors:

  • According to Genessey, the Jazz continue to be “very active” in trade talks as they explore the possibility of moving up in the draft. Utah currently has the 24th and 30th overall picks, but wouldn’t mind moving up into the 12-17 range to grab a shooter, sources tell The Deseret News.
  • The Jazz aren’t shopping Derrick Favors, who is entering the final year of his contract, but he is receiving “a lot of interest” from teams, says Genessy. Although Utah would prefer to keep Favors, he’s not entirely off-limits.
  • The Jazz still feel “pretty comfortable” that Gordon Hayward will remain with the team after opting out, but the club doesn’t know for sure, which is complicating offseason planning, writes Genessy.
  • Utah has increased its international budget, making a draft-and-stash prospect a possibility for one of the club’s picks tonights, per Genessy. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated tweets that the Jazz, Spurs, and Nets are all keeping a close eye on international big man Isaiah Hartenstein, who will likely be picked in the 20s tonight.

Trade Rumors: Butler, Rubio, Cavaliers

Jimmy Butler continues to be very much in demand, according to a post from Ian Begley on ESPN Now. Executives from other teams believe the Timberwolves are offering the seventh pick in tonight’s draft as part of a package to get the Bulls to re-open trade talks. Minnesota coach/executive Tom Thibodeau coached Butler in Chicago and is eager for a reunion. The Cavaliers made an unsuccessful offer for Butler, and sources relayed to ESPN.com’s Marc Stein that Butler’s preference is to stay with the Bulls. The Timberwolves are also talking to the Pacers about Paul George, Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical tweets.

There are more trade rumors as the draft draws nearer:

  • The Wolves are once again trying to find takers for Ricky Rubio, tweets Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. Earlier reports identified the Mavericks and Knicks as teams that might have interest in the sixth-year point guard, who still has two seasons and more than $29MM left on his contract.
  • The Cavaliers are in a “holding pattern” as they await progress on several proposed trades, according to Sam Amico of AmicoHoops (Twitter link). Cleveland’s problem is a shortage of tradable assets and what insiders are describing as a “flooded market” (Twitter link).
  • Cleveland is finding that no one wants to take on the hefty contracts of Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith or Tristan Thompson, Amico adds (Twitter link). Shumpert has two years left on his deal at a combined $21.3MM. Smith re-signed last summer and is owed more than $44MM over the next three seasons. Thompson has three years remaining at more than $52.4MM.

Hoops Links Vol. 10: The Process, The Godfather, More

Tired of mock drafts yet? I didn’t think so. Still, it’s important to pace one’s self on a fine day such as this. Before the day is done there will be 60 new NBA players and half that many Woj bombs (we hope), so take a fleeting moment to read about the NBA landscape in general before zeroing in on obscure international sleeper picks and combine results.

To be featured in next week’s Hoops Links (where we prance about telling everybody on the internet why we love the NBA blogosphere so much), submit your favorite articles for nomination. Connect with Austin Kent on Twitter (@AustinKent) as our Thursday publication date approaches and tell us why you think your content deserves a shout out in this most heralded of link dumps.


Kyle Lowry verticalThe offseason is a trying time for sports fans as the balance between passion and rationality can be difficult to strike. For South of the 6ix, Adam Corsair used recent confusion surrounding Kyle Lowry and the Raptors as a telltale example of why fans should be leery of unsubstantiated rumors. Until a decision is made and deal is done, there are too many variables at play for fans to take things at face value all the time.

Author: Adam Corsair – @ACorsair21
Rating: 8 out of 10 Grains of Salt
Link: Kyle Lowry free agent rumors.


A pair of news reports that came out this week suggest that the Spurs could be considering a home run swing in free agency this summer, and Jesus Gomez of Pounding the Rock has broken down exactly what that might look like. The combination of Pau Gasol opting out and the club supposedly shopping Danny Green frees up cap space, and a few other moves could get the Spurs into a scenario where they could offer max money.

Author: Jesus Gomez – @JejeGomez_PtR
Rating: 8 out of 10 Pennies Pinched
Link: Spurs could make big free agent pitch.


Around this time five years ago, the Sixers swung a deal for Andrew Bynum. This, Michael Levin of Liberty Ballers writes, was the true start of “The Process.” In the years since, Sam Hinkie has come and gone, assets have come and gone, and now the franchise approaches the NBA Draft with more optimism than they’ve had since the Allen Iverson Era. Here’s a a celebratory reminder of all that Philly fans have been through and why it was worth it.

Author: Michael Levin – @Michael_Levin
Rating: 8 out of 10 Bowling Injuries
Link: The Process, in summary.


The Suns were wise to turn down an offer for DeAndre Jordan this week, but only because the price was too high. Given more reasonable terms, an acquisition of the three-time All-NBA big man could be wise. For Valley of the Suns, Lucas McLean breaks down scenarios in which Phoenix could make a play for the center and what that could mean.

Author: Lucas McLean – @LucasMcLean
Rating: 7 out of 10 Airplane Emojis
Link: DeAndre Jordan could fit with Suns.


Hockey fans saw an expansion draft unfold in Las Vegas last night, prompting Shameek Mohile of Piston Powered to think about what the Pistons might do in a similar situation. Notably unprotected throughout the hypothetical exercise were Reggie Jackson and Jon Leuer, while the prioritization of those protected was telling in and of itself.

Author: Shameek Mohile – @ShamShammgod
Rating: 8 out of 10 Marc-Andre Fleury Knights Jerseys
Link: The Pistons in an expansion draft.


Nikola Pekovic verticalWhen the Timberwolves waived Nikola Pekovic this week it brought an official end to an era. In honor of the hulking big man, John Meyer of Canis Hoopus published a streamable video-filled recap of the Godfather’s NBA tenure. It wasn’t always graceful, but that doesn’t mean Pek’s stint in Minnesota didn’t have its fair share of highlights and laughs.

Author: John Meyer – @TheDailyWolf
Rating: 9 out of 10 Brandon Knight Body Slams
Link: Celebrating Nikola Pekovic’s career.


The Nets were wise to capitalize on their valuable cap space and land D’Angelo Russell, who has the sort of potential star power that Brooklyn’s roster lacked. Ti Windisch of The Step Back writes that the 2015 second overall pick will be given every opportunity to succeed with the new club, and that the organization finally appears to have a plan.

Author: Ti Windisch – @TiWindisch
Rating: 8 out of 10 Inappropriate Ravens
Link: D’Angelo Russell could thrive with Nets.


The staff at Mavs Moneyball is well aware that LeBron James could hit the open market next offseason and isn’t wasting any time brainstorming potential ways to lure the biggest of fish to the Mavs. Consider the plethora of “Dear LeBron James” letters penned by the blog and let us know which you think would be the most effective.

Author: Rebecca Lawson – @BeccaAfterSix
Rating: 8 out of 10 Elevator Pitches
Link: Mavericks writers recruit LeBron James.


I’ll admit, it’s easy to pile on the Warriors these days, but that doesn’t mean there’s any logic behind it. Count Ron Moskovitz of Golden State of Mind the latest to be offended by the lack of respect Stephen Curry gets from a significant portion of the basketball community. The scribe puts a Dave McMenamin tweet on blast while reminding us all that the back-to-back Warriors MVP is a genuine “bet-the-house franchise changing solo talent.” Y’know, he’s not wrong.

Author: Ron Moskovitz – @Hotspurrrr
Rating: 9 out of 10 Supervillains
Link: Steph Curry disrespected, again.


Until Paul George is formally traded away from the Pacers or he officially signs with the Lakers next summer, there will be a whirlwind of speculation about possible trade suitors. Minh Dao of Rip City Project has capitalized on the growing notion that the All-Star will be on the move sooner rather than later, making the case for the Trail Blazers as a viable option.

Author: Minh Dao – @BeyondTheArcBTA
Rating: 8 out of 10 ESPN Trade Machines
Link: Blazers should trade for Paul George

Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Trade Rumors: Butler, Bledsoe, Hawks, Cavs

While the Bulls still aren’t close to moving Jimmy Butler, there appears to be more “organizational alignment” than there was last year on the idea that a rebuild is in the team’s best interest, reports K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune. Chicago’s asking price for Butler hasn’t changed, according to Johnson, who says the team would be seeking starters or rotation players, along with multiple high draft picks.

Since the Bulls would like to land a high pick in Thursday’s draft if they move Butler, the Celtics (No. 3), Suns (No. 4), and Timberwolves (No. 7) would make sense as trade partners. However, as Johnson details, the Bulls have received the impression that Boston plans to use the third overall pick, and Minnesota’s seventh overall pick likely wouldn’t put Chicago in position to nab one of the top prospects they like, such as De’Aaron Fox or Josh Jackson.

Here are more trade rumors from around the league, including notes on Chicago’s other potential trade partner, the Suns:

  • The Suns have explored the possibility of trading their No. 4 overall pick in a deal for a star, having looked into players like Butler, Paul George, and Kristaps Porzingis, Adrian Wojnarowski noted during The Vertical’s live show on Wednesday night. Sources tell K.C. Johnson that Phoenix is also looking to include Eric Bledsoe, who has two years left on his contract, in any major trade package.
  • On The Vertical’s live show, Wojnarowski identified the Hawks as a team to watch on the trade market, suggesting that new GM Travis Schlenk may be looking to cut costs as he retools the roster. Kent Bazemore could be a trade candidate in Atlanta, per Wojnarowski.
  • Even without a GM in place, the Cavaliers continued to work “furiously” on Wednesday pursuing trade possibilities, writes Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com. It appears the Cavs and Chauncey Billups are close to reach an agreement that would add him to their front office, but the team is more focused on working the trade market, and will continue trying to find a deal on Thursday.
  • Within a larger piece about the draft, Ryan Wolstat of The Toronto Sun suggests the Raptors are confident about their chances to re-sign Serge Ibaka in free agency, which could make Jonas Valanciunas expendable in the right deal.
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