I'll admit this is kind of a half-baked execution, but my general point is a common one in NBA parlance: in this league, 2 nickles don't equal a dime, 4 quarter ain't a dollar, etc.
So if Jimmy Butler is traded, simply getting a pile of 'assets' doesn't really do it for me. If we're going to re-set any contention window (and pretty much tank) by moving on from a 27 year old guy signed to a below-market contract for 3 more years, it better be for someone who's very very likely going to be great and is also young/cost-controlled.
Because I'm less interested to instead get a bunch of prospects plus picks that likely won't ever be as good as Jimmy Butler. I understand the romantic notion of 'bottoming out', but I'd rather stick with the few good players and get lucky in getting more of them, instead of needing to get lucky to get that first star and then luckier still to get more.
So here's skimming on RPM, PER, and my own unwritten rankings and trying to classify stars into logical groups. Yes of course it's subjective. And free agents won't be considered.
- Steph Curry
- Draymond Green
- Russell Westbrook
- Kawhi Leonard
- LaMarcus Aldridge
- Damian Lillard
- John Wall
- Klay Thompson
- Anthony Davis
- Karl-Anthony Towns
- Paul George
Prospects that their teams like too much to make it worth thinking about.
- Andrew Wiggins
- Kristaps Porzingis
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
Definitely (likely) 'yes'
- Brandon Ingram / Ben Simmons (only want a pick if it's top-2)
- James Harden (probably untouchable, but Houston is always creative)
- Kyrie Irving
- Gordon Hayward
- CJ McCollum
- Blake Griffin
Guys who don't play enough defense and/or are leader-y concerns so I'd consider it borderline pending what else you're getting.
- DeMarcus Cousins
- Jabari Parker
- Jhalil Okafor
- D'Angelo Russell
- Devin Booker
- Kevin Love
- (you could put Kyrie on here instead I guess)
Guys I wouldn't mind as a centerpiece but there'd have to be quite a bit more to it...
- Khris Middleton
- Kemba Walker
- Rudy Gobert
- Both Jokic+Mudiay from Denver?
You'll notice no such players are currently on the Celtics or Magic, teams rumored to have interest in Butler. Unless one of those teams jumps into the top 2 this year, I don't want any of their 'packages'. Even if you get a combination of Vucevic+Oladipo (is Oladipo as good as Middleton? I can be convinced), or Crowder+Bradley, that'll just keep the Bulls in the 3rd tier of the East and no players as good as Jimmy Butler.
I think there is definitely debate to be had as to how good Butler actually is, and if his playing style combined with injury history makes him truly that valuable over the next 4 years. But not to the point where I'm moving on with a fistful of assets. I definitely do not have the mindset that Butler 'needs' to be moved due to his attitude and relationship with Hoiberg. Jimmy may have become a corny diva, but he ultimately believes in working hard and (generally) playing defense and team-first basketball...if anything he needs better teammates and coaching, those guys don't need a better Butler.
This is ultimately a long way of saying you're probably not going to trade Jimmy Butler this offseason, unless you want to make a bad trade.