The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the preferred destinations for star Jimmy Butler, however, another player is stalling trade talks: Tobias Harris.
Jimmy Butler requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves in late September after just one year with the organization. While the Timberwolves ultimately have the final say, Butler has listed the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers as his preferred destination.
Butler was almost sent to a different team, the Miami Heat before trade talks fell through. The two sides were reportedly on the brink of completing the deal before the Timberwolves shifted the discussion, thus causing the deal to fall through (h/t ESPN).
It is the Timberwolves’ high asking price that is delaying discussions not just with the Heat but with any other potential suitors as well. Butler is a superstar and the Timberwolves are doing their best to get a fair return. However, it is hard to warrant a big return when Butler is on an expiring deal and may sign elsewhere next summer.
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That is what happened between the Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers, who have every reason to get a Butler deal done.
With two max slots next summer, acquiring Butler would guarantee that the Clippers get one star (without Butler being traded elsewhere and re-signing like Paul George) to lure in another star, such as Kawhi Leonard, next summer.
However, the trade talks stalled due to the Timberwolves asking price, which included Tobias Harris. According to Yahoo Sports, Harris is not someone the Clippers are looking to move in a deal.
Personally, I like Tobias Harris, I think he has the potential to be an all-star this season and has a lot of room to grow at just 26 years old. However, I also do not think this deal is even possible for the Clippers without including Harris.
It is a high price to pay, yes, but it is something necessary if the Clippers do want to bring in Butler. If the team wants to ride with Harris that is fine as well. But to get Butler, they have to send Harris.
And quite frankly, I do not think that is a terrible thing, either. The Clippers offered Harris an $80 million contract extension, to which he rejected. He is eligible for a five-year, $188 million max contract from the Clippers next summer and a four-year, $145 million contract elsewhere.
Whether or not Harris is worth that kind of money is a different discussion. What I can recognize is that the Clippers will likely be reluctant to agree to that hefty of a contract with Harris.
Unless he blossoms into an All-NBA talent this season, the Clippers likely will not want to be locked down financially with this contract. The team traded Blake Griffin just half a season after agreeing to his max contract, realizing that the move was a mistake and would hurt the team down the line.
Signing Harris to a max deal without getting another superstar would hurt the team down the line. Although he is talented, there is a chance that in three years people would be asking why he is getting paid this much money.
Thus, if Harris is set on a big payday, something the Los Angeles Clippers are not set on, it makes sense to trade him as this will be his last year in LA, anyway. Jimmy Butler is still a better player than Harris and is someone that is worth an extension.
The Clippers would be trading away one year of Harris for an upgrade that will actually be with the team for the long-term. And as good as Harris is, he and Butler are still not a good enough duo to dethrone the top teams in the Western Conference.
It is either trading Harris or parting ways with a young star like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, which upon further reflection, is a bad trade for the Clippers to make. Gilgeous-Alexander could be a huge piece in the future of a contending Clippers team for a reduced priced.
There is no guarantee that Harris will even be a Clipper after this season. Thus, if the Los Angeles Clippers really want Jimmy Butler, the team may have to just take their medicine and part ways with Tobias Harris.