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Houston offering four first rounders for Jimmy Butler

On Thursday, yet another twist to the seemingly never-ending Jimmy Butler saga made headlines. At 3:10 p.m., ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported about the Houston Rockets “renewed” interest in the All-Star swingman. This new offer includes four future first-round picks, an unheard of deal in all of sports.

Houston was the previous frontrunner in late September after the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors backed off due to high asking prices. But the two teams were unable to come to a compromise then, which caused Butler to start off the season playing for head coach Tom Thibodeau and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Despite his clear focus on finding a new home, he has continued to be a dominating force on the court. He is averaging 24.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.8 steals through the four games of action. He is also shooting a very efficient 53.3 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from beyond the arc.

The reports have drawn mostly criticism from NBA experts and fans, but there are positives and negatives for both sides. The Timberwolves have some of the best young talents in the league in Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. These are two players that Thibodeau should plan on building around going forward. The addition of four first-round picks will definitely help add young talent to the team, as they work their way up the rankings in the highly competitive Western Conference.

The key downside to this is that the Rockets will likely stay near the top of the NBA in the years to come. This would mean that the Timberwolves would receive late first round picks, where there is a significant talent drop off from the lottery picks. From historical research, it has been shown that players drafted in the top 5 have at least a 60 percent chance of reaching “star” potential, while only six percent of players drafted 21 to 30 achieve that status.

The Rockets, on the other hand, are a team with heavy veteran leadership and talent. They are also, unlike the Timberwolves, one of the favorites to compete for an NBA championship this year. Adding Butler to their already monster lineup including James Harden, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, will give them the most superstar talent of any team in the league, including the Golden State Warriors. The Rockets are not planning for the future. They are looking to win now, which is why their front office is willing to give up four first rounders for one player.

Having so much possession-seeking talent on one team can cause issues when it comes to fluidity on the court. Head coach Mike D’Antoni will need to find a way to play each of these players so that they flow well with the others on the court and do not hinder the performances of their teammates.

An upside of this would be that the Rocket’s stars will play reduced minutes, which will likely limit injuries and allow them to be fresh come playoff time. Usually, time is the biggest aid when a superstar-heavy team is trying to find their groove. But if the Butler trade causes troubles for the Rockets later down the road causing their star players to seek trades or test free agency, Houston puts themselves in a major hole in the long term with their limited draft selections.

The Jimmy Butler saga ending in Houston can shake up the entire outlook of the 2018-2019 NBA season. But until the Timberwolves accept or counter the trade, what will happen down the road is all just speculation.

 

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