NBA Rumors: Latest Buzz on Possible Jimmy Butler Trade and John Wall

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistNovember 7, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler plays against the Indiana Pacers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Part of the NBA's appeal is that its rumor mill can be just as exciting as above-the-rim artistry.

The latest trade whispers bear that out.

They involve not one, but two All-Stars and a 2018 Western Conference finalist. While rumors are often nothing more than that, either of these could potentially shift the Association's balance of power if there proves to be fire at the source of this smoke.


Latest on Jimmy Butler

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - NOVEMBER 28: Jimmy Butler #23 and Gorgui Dieng #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves defend against Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards during the game on November 28, 2017 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: U
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

It's tough to tell if Jimmy Butler's near-two-month-old trade request is any closer to being granted, but we continue learning more about the process.

For starters, league sources told The Athletic's Kelly Iko that the Minnesota Timberwolves are "hell-bent" on shedding Gorgui Dieng's remaining salary. The 14.5 minutes Dieng is averaging—his fewest since his rookie year—make it seem almost impossible that he's owed a whopping $48.6 million over this season and the next two.

To be fair, Dieng inked this deal in 2016, the offseason in which everyone got paid. Still, that's a ludicrous amount for someone who has presumably reached his peak and owns career averages of 8.2 points and 6.6 rebounds.

That contract won't be easy to move. Sources told Iko that Houston called six different clubs in hopes of finding a third team to facilitate a trade but couldn't get anyone to bite.

This might help explain the thought process behind the Rockets' reported offer of four future first-round picks, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. If Minnesota could have flipped one or two to get out of Dieng's deal, that part of the requirement would at least be satisfied.

But there may be another issue for HoustonMarc Stein of the New York Times wrote that's about the last place Minnesota wants to send Butler.

"Minnesota owner Glen Taylor and Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau are in strong agreement about not wanting to trade Butler to Houston," per Stein. "... Neither Taylor nor Thibodeau wants to be responsible for elevating the Rockets to superpower status by handing Butler to a team that already boasts James Harden and Chris Paul."

That said, Stein added the Timberwolves would be "foolish" not to take the Rockets' offer if it's the best available.


John Wall Trade Unlikely Before July 2019?

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 6: Washington Wizards guard John Wall #2 handles the ball during the game against the Dallas Mavericks on October 6, 2018 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by
Glenn James/Getty Images

The Washington Wizards are in a bad spot.

If their 2-8 start doesn't accurately sum up their on-court issues, their minus-10.1 net rating (28th overall) should do the trick. But before anyone can even start brainstorming possible solutions, there's a bigger issue—Washington is essentially married to this core for at least the next two seasons.

The 2019-20 payroll already has a cap-clogging $92.4 million slated for John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter (plus an indefensible $15.4 million going to Ian Mahinmi). For 2020-21, that trio stands to collect another $98.4 million.

If any moves are made around this nucleus, the limited flexibility will force those moves to the margins. It's hard to imagine that being a big enough jolt to get this group out of its funk. Replacing head coach Scott Brooks feels like a similarly low-impact change.

ESPN's Zach Lowe wrote that "trading Wall might be Washington's only get-out-of-jail card." But before anyone has time to fire up the trade machine, Lowe also explained why such a transaction is improbable for the near future:

"A Wall deal before July 1 is unlikely in part due to complexities surrounding his 15 percent trade kicker—believed to be the first trade kicker that would be spread over the length of a supermax contract. Trade kickers cannot lift a player's salary above his maximum in the year he is traded, meaning Wall's payout could shrink if the Wizards trade him in 2019-20 once he shifts onto his supermax deal—and perhaps close to $0 in that 2019-20 season, sources say.

"If they trade him before then, they might owe him a giant lump sum, sources say."

This, of course, is only relevant if there's genuine trade interest in Wall.

His status as a five-time All-Star might make you think that's a given. His reality as a 28-year-old, non-shooting guard with knee surgeries in his past and supermax earnings in his future loudly suggest otherwise.

Then again, maybe a point guard-starved organization like the Phoenix Suns or Orlando Magic will decide Wall is worth the risk. He's basically been a 20-point, 10-assist nightly supplier since entering the league. He's not quite playing up to his standards right now, and he's still going for 21.5 points on 46.1 percent shooting, 7.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game.

Wall undoubtedly earned his keep. The question is whether he'll still be worth it over the life of that deal.