The Team to Beat in LA Next Year is… the Clippers?

If you pay attention to NBA rumors you know that Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota. That wasn’t really news to anyone, really since the end of the season we’ve all known that Jimmy has been super disgruntled and not at all happy with his situation. However, today Butler met with head coach Tom Thibodeau and officially requested a trade. He even asked for three specific teams to be a destination: the Knicks, Nets, and Clippers.

Each of these teams have cap space next summer to be able to offer Butler a max deal. The first choice is a little more obvious than the others. Butler has not kept it secret that he wants to play in New York, and that the Knicks are the franchise to be. Me and Dubs on the show today even talked about how that could work with young players like Porzingis and newly drafted Kevin Knox could make that an interesting team in the East. The other two are a little more perplexing. While yes the Nets are in New York and would fulfill Butler’s dream of playing in NYC, the state of the team is questionable. Even with adding Butler, the only other noteworthy players are D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe, and that trio is not exactly a playoff team. Remember the Bulls when it was just Butler and a bunch of scrubs? Not great. Same with the Clippers… until the great Adrian Wojnarowski brought this to my attention.

The Knicks are able provide Butler with a capable partner in Porzingis, but the Clippers can entice Butler with the opportunity to play with any free agent in 2019 (theoretically). Here’s the kicker though that really got me thinking: who else has the L.A. Clippers on his short list of destinations? That’s right… Kawhi freakin’ Leonard. Both Butler and Leonard want to play in Los Angeles, both of them don’t want to live in LeBron’s shadow, and most importantly, both of them can be signed to the Clippers for max deals. Could Butler make more money by extending with Minnesota? Yes. Could Kawhi make more money by extending with Toronto? Yes. But are either of them in ideal situations? No.

The one fault in the plan is that the Clippers don’t have a lot going for them at the moment. When LeBron and Chris Bosh both agreed to go to Miami, it’s because they had Dwayne Wade and mastermind Pat Riley waiting for them in South Beach. There is no star currently on the Clippers that Butler and Leonard can form a super team with, and Doc Rivers hasn’t reached a conference finals since 2012. However, the idea that both of them have the same target in mind, and that both of them can get paid the money they want is something to look out for next summer. So maybe Magic and LeBron’s plan to wait to strike in 2019’s free agency may have backfired, cause the Clippers are all of the sudden one hot destination.

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