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Heat’s Bam Adebayo Says He Was Almost Traded for Jimmy Butler in Timberwolves Deal

Erin WalshApril 10, 2022

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 5: Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat looks to pass the ball during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on April 5, 2022 at FTX Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images

It appears Miami Heat big man Bam Adebayo was nearly traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 2018. 

Speaking on JJ Redick's The Old Man and the Three podcast, Adebayo said he was almost traded to the Timberwolves in a deal that would have included Jimmy Butler, who was eventually dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers. 

“You heard the Minnesota situation, and it’s crazy,” Adebayo said (via Tribune News Service). “Because I almost got traded for Jimmy, to Minnesota.”

At the time, Adebayo, the 14th overall pick in 2017, was entering his second year in the NBA after an unpromising rookie season that saw him average just 6.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 69 games. 

Miami obviously ended up keeping the Kentucky product, and it's because team president Pat Riley was confident he had something special in him. 

“But I almost got traded for Jimmy,” Adebayo recalled. “Pat wouldn’t trade me. Like he was, ‘Nah, I see something good in this kid.’ Yadda, yadda, yadda. And, at that point, I’m sweating bullets. Like, I’m not trying to be traded. I like it in Miami. It’s warm. I kind of got my feet wet. I’m familiar with the place.”

Keeping Adebayo paid off for the Heat as he has improved in each of his five NBA seasons and has emerged as one of the better bigs in the league. The 24-year-old is currently having a career year, averaging 19.1 points, 10.1 rebounds and 3.4 assists while shooting 55.7 percent from the floor. 

Miami also landed Butler in a sign-and-trade deal with the 76ers in 2019, and he and Adebayo have combined to make the Heat one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The duo led the team to the NBA Finals during the 2019-20 campaign and a playoff appearance last season.

The Heat also clinched the Eastern Conference this year with a 53-28 record entering Sunday's regular-season finale against the Orlando Magic. Butler has played a big role in their success, averaging 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 48.0 percent from the floor.

With the emergence of Adebayo, the play of Butler and the addition of Kyle Lowry, the Heat are primed to make a deep run in the postseason.