When Jimmy Butler told the Minnesota Timberwolves he wanted to be traded before the start of the 2018-2019 NBA season, he listed the New York Knicks as one of his three preferred destinations. A few weeks later, it’s apparent that the interest was not mutual.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks never even placed a call to the Timberwolves regarding a possible trade for Butler. The shooting guard remains on Minnesota’s roster, and there’s an increasing likelihood that will be the case when the season finally begins.
The recent report indicates that New York’s front office is serious about keeping their draft picks and young players. A couple of weeks ago, Knicks’ president Steve Mills made it clear that the team wouldn’t mortgage their future for any superstars that are set to hit free agency next summer.
“What we’re not going to do is take shortcuts,” Mills said at an event for fans, via ESPN. “We’re not going to trade our draft picks. … We’re going to build this team the right way. What we’re not going to do is trade away assets to get a [free agent]that we can go get on our own later.”
Butler will be one of the most sought-after free agents in 2019, along with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson. New York will likely have the necessary salary cap space to sign at least one player to a max contract.
In the past, the Knicks have been guilty of trading away their most valuable assets for stars that were going to hit free agency in just a couple of months. That’s what happened when they acquired Carmelo Anthony in the middle of the 2010-2011 season. New York made three playoff appearances with Anthony in six and a half years, winning just one postseason series.
The Knicks are hoping to pair at least one superstar with Kristaps Porzingis next summer. Porzingis is set to become a restricted free agent after the upcoming season. He could miss most of the year as he recovers from the torn ACL he suffered in February.
Without Porzingis, the Knicks will likely be one of the NBA’s worst teams. That means they could have one of the highest picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. New York still has high hopes for Frank Ntilikina, whom they took with the No.8 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Kevin Knox was one of the most impressive rookies in the 2018 Summer League after the Knicks selected him ninth overall.
Butler also listed the Los Angeles Clippers and Brooklyn Nets among his preferred destinations. The two teams reportedly had conversations with Minnesota but never came close to making a deal.
The Miami Heat have been the top suitors for Butler. A trade was nearly completed over the weekend before ultimately falling through, according to ESPN.
Minnesota opens the regular on the road against the San Antonio Spurs on Oct. 17. Butler hasn’t played in any of the Timberwolves’ preseason games.