Detroit — Jimmy Butler is not walking through that door.
Well, probably not.
It takes money to make money. And it takes star talent to get star talent.
It takes star talent — or a very good deal, under very good circumstances.
The Pistons don’t seem to have the star talent to spare — and even if they did, it would take a big stretch to put together a package that would entice the Minnesota Timberwolves to deal their All-Star wing, who is likely to be traded any day this week, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
The rumor mill heated up over the weekend, as Wojnarowski mentioned the Pistons as a team interested in adding Butler to their lineup. Well, make that the Pistons and about half the rest of the NBA. Given that competitive trade market, with other offers on the table, it’s going to be hard for the Pistons to have enough assets.
That is, unless the Timberwolves become desperate and a window opens to get a favorable deal.
The Pistons have seen it happen already in the past year, in getting Blake Griffin from the Los Angeles Clippers before the trade deadline for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic and last year’s first-round pick.
That was more situational than star-driven. The Clippers were looking to unload Griffin’s massive contract of $173 million. The Timberwolves could be in a similar situation, with team owner Glen Taylor overruling team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden in their desires to keep Butler.
Some reports have Butler potentially being traded before Minnesota’s training camp gets going this week. Teams are putting together their best offers for Butler.
For the Pistons, the best package would be either Griffin or Andre Drummond, both on big contracts. Here’s why that won’t work: the Pistons value Griffin as a building block to their winning team. Drummond isn’t an option because the Timberwolves are keeping center Karl-Anthony Towns on a five-year deal worth $190 million.
Butler, who has one year left on his contract, will be looking for a big payday next year and trying to shoehorn the salaries of Griffin, Drummond and Butler would take some creative mathematics.
That leaves the Pistons’ young core as the only trade pieces. It likely would take a mammoth haul — something like Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Reggie Jackson and some draft picks — to even draw a second glance from Taylor.
The Timberwolves likely would want more, such as the Pistons taking on Gorgui Dieng’s remaining contract for three years and $48 million. That seems too much for the Pistons absorb, even for the allure of an All-Star wing like Butler.
That doesn’t even get to the notion that Butler — who listed his preferred teams as the Nets, Knicks and Clippers — would want to stay long term.
It’s just an added layer of complexity to a deal that is a longshot from the start.
On the optimistic side, bringing in Butler would catapult the Pistons into the top few contenders in the East. A drastic move like that would gut the Pistons’ roster and would be a sign from Pistons owner Tom Gores that they’re going all-in, with a roster that’s ready to make the playoffs, but not solidly built to contend for a championship.
Again, Jimmy Butler is not walking through that door.