An undisputable top-15 player in the league becomes available only once in a blue moon. Reports surfaced from across the league, beginning with Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic, that star forward Jimmy Butler demanded a trade away from the Minnesota Timberwolves after meeting with head coach Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday in California.
Enter Detroit(along with the majority of teams in the NBA).
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Pistons are interested in engaging Minnesota on the possibility of acquiring the disgruntled star. Other teams, such as the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Clippers, and Brooklyn Nets are also interested, and the list is even lengthier than that.
Somehow, someway, Detroit will have to put together a package that stands out from what any other team will part with for Butler. For a team in cap hell, and with the desire to keep their two best players in Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, the prospect of a deal coming together is minimal.
Yet that does not mean Detroit shouldn’t try to make a play for the elite two-way star.
Pistons owner Tom Gores wants now more than ever to win. With Griffin and Drummond as the franchise cornerstones and an effective point guard (when healthy) in Reggie Jackson, the Pistons have never been in a better position to compete with Gores in charge. He has an aspiration to win and proved so when he surprised the entire NBA by trading for Griffin in January.
That being said, at their peak, Detroit’s roster can compete for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference. It is more likely that they float near the bottom end of playoff teams in the East.
So how does Gores win when he does not have a team good enough to do so? He acquires Jimmy Butler.
Jimmy Butler drills the clutch jumper and he made sure everyone knows it 👀 pic.twitter.com/axiwk38GYd
— Def Pen Hoops (@DefPenHoops) December 28, 2017
Assets wise, Detroit is in a tough position. They’ll have to turn creative package wise, in order to spark the interest of the Wolves, while being able to complete the trade under their ugly cap situation.
Players that could be involved in the deal include; Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Stanley Johnson, Reggie Bullock, Jon Leuer, Bruce Brown, Henry Ellenson, and Khyri Thomas. Those are players that either provide value or are salary fillers.
Now for the Pistons’ draft pick situation. While Detroit does not have a second round pick to work with until 2024, Detroit controls all of their first round picks, which are good equity to have when their assets player-wise may be lacking.
I’ll spare your time by not going into package ideas because the odds of myself creating the exact trade package that was to happen is slimmer than Tom Thibodeau not signing a former Chicago Bull.
What I will say is that if Detroit were to acquire a superstar, that time is now. Blake Griffin is 29 years old, while he is not worsening is a player, he has peaked. Reggie Jackson is 28 years old and his ankles have already had their fair share of issues over his career. Andre Drummond has entered his prime and is an All-Star level big man to complete the theoretical Big-3 of him, Griffin, and Butler.
If Detroit is able to acquire Butler while holding onto Griffin and Drummond, they immediately become a top-four seed in the East, with the opportunity to ignite a fan base in a city desperately in need of a team to back.
Last season, the four-time All-Star averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.9 assists per game. He shot a career-high 47.4 percent from the floor and an acceptable 35 percent from the 3-point line. He is an ultra-dynamic scorer on offense and one of the best defenders in the entire association.
Butler not only makes Detroit winners on the court but off the court as well. National media coverage would skyrocket to cover a team with worldwide stars in Griffin and Butler. More fans, more media coverage, more money. Money talks in the NBA, just as it does everywhere else in the world.
And if Butler, who is an unrestricted free agent in the 2019 offseason decides to leave after the year, then fine. Detroit took a risk to win big, and for a team that would be stuck in mediocrity without making a deal of this magnitude, that is okay. Butler cares about a winning culture. Gores and Ed Stefanski have worked tirelessly this offseason to instill a desire to win within the locker room and encapsulated that mission when convincing reigning Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey, to take over the reigns of the team. On the court, wins will come with the most talented team Detroit has been home to since the “Going to Work” era of Detroit Basketball.
The odds are heavily stacked against the Detroit Pistons to acquire Jimmy Butler. However, Tom Gores, Ed Stefanski, and Dwane Casey should do whatever it takes to bring Butler to the Motor City.
Featured Image: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports