The Great Jimmy Butler Test of 2018

On Monday, Steve Mills, Scott Perry and David Fizdale had a sort of “open forum” for a few select fans to ask questions.

When specifically asked about trading for a free-agent-to-be like Jimmy Butler, this is what Mills had to say:

“We’re going to build this team the right way. We’re not going to trade assets that we can get on our own later. … We’re not taking shortcuts. We’re not going to trade our draft picks. We believe New York will buy into a plan.”

Perry added, “Our main focus is the ’18-19 season. As much as we talked about having cap space, we are trying not to get too far ahead of ourselves. This team requires our undivided attention. I understand fans drifting to the future. Part of my job and Steve’s job is to stay grounded. We’ll deal with that class next summer when that arises.”

That was Monday.

Today, according to league sources (I totally missed that Shams is at The Athletic now, by the way. Wow, big get), Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. According to Woj, he would prefer to be dealt to the Knicks, Nets or Clippers. Not only that, but Woj later added that the reason he chose those teams is because they each have room to re-sign him to a 5-year/$190 million extension, which is what he wants from any team that trades for him.

So there ya go. Rarely do you have a test as obvious as this one. You said Monday that you would not do X and then on Wednesday, one of the league’s top players said, “I would like for the Knicks to do X.”

What a fascinating test this will be. I tend to believe that they will follow their initial remarks on Monday, because I don’t see how Minnesota can’t get a pick back for Butler (and the Nets have an extra Nuggets top 12-protected pick to trade) and if they won’t trade a pick, then this is not an issue. Not to mention that Butler’s cap hold is $30 million, so the Knicks would effectively be out of the Kyrie Irving sweepstakes if they traded for Butler (unless they attached so many assets to dump players that that would, too, go directly against what Perry said that they would do).

So this should be an easy case of the Knicks actually following the plan that they just re-iterated on Monday. And yet…

Knicks Morning News (2018.09.19)

  • [NYPost] Courtney Lee wants to contend — and here’s how it can happen
    (Tuesday, September 18, 2018 4:35:05 PM)

    Courtney Lee arrived a week and a half ago at the Knicks’ Tarrytown training center for voluntary workouts, gearing up for Monday’s start of training camp. The Knicks guard just doesn’t know how long he’ll be there. According to an NBA source, Lee’s preference if he gets traded is to be dealt to a playoff…

  • [NYPost] It’s a changed Frank Ntilikina with position battle looming
    (Tuesday, September 18, 2018 9:25:06 AM)

    It is unknown if Frank Ntilikina will start. It is unclear if Ntilikina will play the majority of time at point guard. What is clear for Ntilikina entering his second season is his looks — a newly sculpted, taller body after an offseason that has Knicks management drooling. The low-key Frenchman even boasts blond streaks…

  • [NYTimes] The Los Angeles Clippers Signed a Big Star. From Sports Illustrated.
    (Wednesday, September 19, 2018 12:18:27 AM)

    Lee Jenkins, one of the magazine’s best-known writers, has prompted head-scratching from around N.B.A. with his move from covering the league to team executive.

  • [SNY Knicks] Knicks reportedly shopping Courtney Lee, who says he wants to stay
    (Tuesday, September 18, 2018 11:27:26 PM)

    Amid reports indicating that Courtney Lee is seeking to be traded to a contender, the 32-year-old told ESPN that he does not want to be traded and is happy to remain with the team.

  • [SNY Knicks] Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina gained 10-15 pounds of muscle during offseason
    (Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:28:15 PM)

    To up his game entirely, Fizdale wants the young guard to be more aggressive and physical. In turn, Ntilikina hit the weights.