The NBA off-season has commenced, and we’re in for a wild one. It’s been just one week since the Golden State Warriors won the Finals, and the trade rumors are everywhere.
Most recently, Indiana’s franchise player has been linked to the Cavaliers, and Los Angeles Lakers. Today, however, it’s Jimmy Butler that the trade buzz is all about.
Yes, for one more run at the Golden State Warriors, Paul George is the prime candidate, with one year remaining on his deal.
But for the Cleveland Cavaliers as a franchise, Jimmy Butler may be the solution.
Butler had a career year. The Chicago Bulls were faced with new additions Rajon Rondo, and Dwyane Wade who received heavy criticism from the front office.
Despite the chaotic relations from administration to the locker room, Butler thrived his sixth season in the league. He posted career-highs in points per game, rebounds, and assists.
Through advocacy and the disorderly organization by Chicago’s front office, Jimmy Butler remained poised, and played at star level; displaying his readiness and capability to play for a contender.
Enter the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost their second out of three championships to the Golden State Warriors, who added Kevin Durant last summer. Arguably the second best player in the league behind James, Durant was the difference maker, and the closer for Golden State.
Realizing that their current lineup isn’t going to work, Cleveland is in a sticky situation. No salary, no assets (their 2017 and 2019 first round picks have been traded), and their role players are overpaid; hence, immovable.
Cleveland is going to have to make a trade, and despite his excellent performance in this year’s Finals, it’ll likely be a Kevin Love exit.
Yes, Jimmy Butler is a scoring machine, handles pressure as well as anyone and is a more than active defender.
Above all that, one thing that’s gone unnoticed: Jimmy Butler can play the two.
He started out at the two before moving to the three for Chicago; and now that he’s filled out, he’ll be able to serve as Cleveland’s starting shooting guard.
Now Klay Thompson wasn’t a huge problem for Cleveland last year. He averaged only 15 points on 38 percent from behind the arc. Regardless, Butler will pressure Thompson to a standard so far beyond that of Shumpert and Smith, that the upgrade will make an immediate impact.
Jimmy Butler’s current contract is team friendly. He’s locked in until the 2019-2020 season for under $20-million a year. Say the Cavaliers trade for Butler, it works, they win a championship.
Paul George, has been more than vocal about his aims to join the Lakers, once a free agent in 2018. With Jimmy, Cleveland wouldn’t have to worry about free agency for years to come, and can continue working towards another Finals.
One more thing: LeBron James’ free agency decision after next year. If Cleveland risks it all, makes the trade, and this season goes even worse, LeBron will decline his option. Which leaves Jimmy and Kyrie both under contract, for at least another season.
That’s still a playoff core, and keeps the Cavaliers relevant without LeBron James.
Jimmy Butler is a three-time All Defensive Second team, most adept on that side of the ball. Last season, he averaged 23.9 points, 5.5 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game.
Trading for Butler will be a roster upgrade, despite the loss of Kevin Love. Love thrives as a three-point shooter, and earns his rebounding average with 11.1
Nonetheless, Butler will earn Cleveland a perimeter defender, and more rounded wing that can run an offense, even with James on the bench.
All stats and information provided by ESPN and NBA.com. Featured image provided by Hoops Habit via Google Images.