Report: Jimmy Butler Drawing Interest from Raptors, Would Join Kawhi Leonard

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 23: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts to being called for a foul against the Houston Rockets during the third quarter in Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockets defeated the Timberwolves 119-100. 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. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Add the Toronto Raptors to the list of teams in the trade market for Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler.

According to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN: "Buzz this afternoon is that the Timberwolves have told at least one interested team that they can get a good player back. In other words, up your offer. More buzz: Toronto is interested."

On Sunday, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that the Brooklyn Nets, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Portland Trail Blazers and Sacramento Kings were all inquiring about Butler, though "few franchises, if any, are engaged in serious conversations with the Timberwolves."

He added that "Several teams are willing to take Butler without an assurance that he would re-sign with them in the summer."

Wojnarowski also later added the Cleveland Cavaliers to that mix: 

Kevin Love would not be in that trade, as Zach Lowe of ESPN noted: 

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today also threw the Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards into the mix: 

So basically, if the Raptors want Butler, they'll be competing with half the NBA. 

As for what the Raptors might offer in a deal to pair Butler with Kawhi Leonard, they may be disinclined to get rid of Kyle Lowry, instead hoping to build a Big Three in Toronto. And the money wouldn't work in a straight swap between those players, with Lowry due $31 million this season, per Spotrac.com, and Butler owed $18.7 million.

A trade for Serge Ibaka and OG Anunoby would work from a financial perspective, however, though the Raptors would find themselves in a position with two players who could simply walk in free agency next summer in Leonard and Butler, at the expense of giving away some young players.

On the other hand, a trip to the NBA Finals or even a title might convince Leonard and Butler to sign long-term extensions. 

It's an interesting possibility, and one the Raptors will likely at least investigate. Pairing Butler with Leonard would give the Raptors a dynamic pair of two-way, All-Star wings in an era where such players are in incredible demand.

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