However, in making any deal work, Miami has to determine which players will be sent in exchange for Butler, with the team reportedly reluctant to send one of its young talents away.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald looked at the possibility of a Butler deal between the Heat and Timberwolves and offered the following points:
“The Heat and Wolves have been trying to structure a deal that would be palatable to both parties. The Heat has been reluctant to include Josh Richardson, preferring instead to have a Butler/Richardson tandem that would be among the league’s best for a small forward/shooting guard pairing.
“The Wolves reportedly are asking for stars, draft picks and starters for Butler. The Heat lacks the first but could offer its first-round pick in 2019 or 2020 and also could dangle multiple starters.”
Jackson also suggests that other teams may be involved in the final deal in order to make it work, citing the Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings. He notes that if Richardson isn’t included in a trade, either Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk or Justise Winslow are strong candidates to be moved
Acquiring the 29-year-old Butler and his $19.8 million contract for this year means that the Heat would need to send players whose combined salaries either match or are above that amount. That’s because the Heat are already above the salary cap, a situation that wouldn’t change next year, which would prevent them from signing the veteran as a free agent next July.
One key facet of the Heat trading for Butler was pointed out by Jackson:
“The Heat or any team acquiring Butler in a trade would also acquire his Bird Rights, meaning the Heat could surpass the cap to sign him to a five year $190 million extension.”
Butler had wrist surgery during the offseason, but is expected to be ready to start the 2018-19 NBA season next month. Over the past five years, he’s been one of the most durable players in the league, having been among the top 10 players in minutes played. Last season, he averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists.