NBA Trade Rumors: Josh Richardson, Pick Headlined Heat's Jimmy Butler Offer

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2018

FILE - In this April 21, 2018, file photo, Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler plays against the Houston Rockets in the first half during Game 3 of an NBA basketball first round playoff series in Minneapolis. With Butler's trade demand swirling like a dark cloud around coach Tom Thibodeau, newly minted super-max player Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves arrive for training camp. (AP Photo/Jim Mone, File)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler is still on the Minnesota Timberwolves' roster, but the team could have landed Josh Richardson and a protected first-round pick from the Miami Heat if it accepted the Eastern Conference team's reported offer.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Richardson and the pick "headlined" the package Miami offered Minnesota for Butler before "talks collapsed twice."

Stein suggested "Minnesota really can't hope to do better under these dire circumstances" after Butler made it clear he doesn't want to play for the team, but the Timberwolves didn't accept the offer.

Perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise Butler is still with Minnesota considering Stein said owner Glen Taylor is known for "legendary indecisiveness." Stein went as far as to say Taylor "risks alienating Miami to the point that the Heat czar Pat Riley pushes away from the table."

He also listed the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers as potentially interested parties in a Butler trade, but the Heat have generated plenty of headlines. 

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported talks between the Timberwolves and Heat "advanced to the brink of a blockbuster trade" before falling apart. He noted the Timberwolves saw a deal with Miami as "inevitable" and hadn't seriously engaged with other teams as a result.

Butler is a two-way impact player who can defend the opponent's best scorer on one end and take over a game as a multidimensional scorer on the other. He is a four-time All-Star, four-time All-Defensive selection and two-time All-NBA selection who would be difficult to replace.

However, Richardson is just 25 years old and could slide into Butler's role as a two-way player on the wing as a complement to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

He averaged a career-best 12.9 points per game last season while shooting 37.8 percent from deep. What's more, opponents shot 3.3 percent worse from the field than their normal averages when he defended them in 2017-18, per NBA.com.

Despite the potential for the Timberwolves to receive a first-round pick and Richardson, Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported they are "preparing to start the season with Butler on the roster." 

Considering there has already been a trade demand, trade discussions and social media beef, Minnesota could be in for an awkward start to the 2018-19 campaign if that's the case.

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