NBA Trade Rumors: Buzz on Jimmy Butler to Heat and Warriors' D'Angelo Russell

Theo SalaunContributor IJuly 2, 2019

Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown, right, talks to Jimmy Butler during the first half in Game 3 of the team's first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, April 18, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The NBA has already seen more roster movement than my NBA 2K offseasons, and we are just getting started. Now, accompanying the flurry of traditional free-agent signings, players and picks are flying around as teams look to get their money right and the cores of their rosters filled.

The two players at the heart of the latest roster shakeups? Jimmy Butler and D'Angelo Russell, whose deals reportedly involve a total of eight teams and nine players—so far.


Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat

As soon as free agency opened at 6 p.m. ET on June 30, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Jimmy Butler was set to join Miami in a sign-and-trade. Soon after, The Athletic's Tim Cato reported that Goran Dragic was headed to the Dallas Mavericks. Just three hours later, Cato reneged and suggested the deal fell through because "there was a misunderstanding with the parameters."

Now, Wojnarowski, Zach Lowe and Ramona Shelburne have reported a four-team deal between the Heat, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Portland Trail Blazers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Butler now leaves Philadelphia, while Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson and a 2023 first-round pick leave Miami and Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless leave Portland. 

Butler and Leonard are headed to the Heat, Whiteside to the Blazers, Richardson to the 76ers and the 2023 pick and Harkless are going to the Clippers. While L.A. absorbs Harkless' $11 million contract, it still has the cap space to offer Leonard a max deal.

Meanwhile, the Blazers bring in a legitimate center (who averages 13.4 points, 11.4 rebounds and 2.3 blocks on his career) as Jusuf Nurkic continues to recover from last season's devastating injury. The 76ers don't lose Butler for nothing, instead bringing in a better three-point shooter to help space the floor for All-Star point guard Ben Simmons—who, in 160 games, has yet to hit a shot from deep. 

The Heat get their star and are now expected to sign Butler, who averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists as a 76er, to a four-year, $142 million contract.


D'Angelo Russell to Golden State, for Now

It was a move that virtually nobody saw coming, so much so that Brian Windhorst's early report got clowned by the nephews on Reddit. Per Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets are sign-and-trading D'Angelo Russell to the Golden State Warriors, along with Shabazz Napier and Treveon Graham, for a future first-round pick. Russell is set to earn a four-year, $117 million max contract.

To make the money work, the Warriors traded Andre Iguodala (who is set to earn $17 million next season) and a future first-round pick with sliding protections to the Memphis Grizzlies. Golden State is also sending Napier and Graham, along with some cash, to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

With Kevin Durant in Brooklyn and Klay Thompson on crutches, Russell is set to join a nebulous cast in Golden State and provide some much-needed playmaking.

Unless, as reported by Marc Stein, the Warriors are planning to trade the young All-Star: "They will trade him. It's just a matter of when." If they do, the Nets and Warriors will need to bring in a third team to complete the deal as CBA rules prohibit a sign-and-traded player from being traded until December 15.

Given the bevy of teams interested in Russell's talents this offseason, the possibility of a third organization entering the fray is a very real one if the Warriors prefer multiple assets or a complementary wing. The Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers (barring a Kawhi Leonard signing) are likely to lead that list of candidates. 

Russell is 6'5", 23 years old and averaged 21.1 points and 7.0 assists while leading the Brooklyn Nets to the 2019 playoffs despite a variety of team injuries. The Warriors don't rebuild, they reload—and, unless they find a willing third team, D-Lo should be gunning for them until Christmas.  


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