Minnesota must be tempted by the four draft picks Houston offered

The Houston Rockets offered four future first round draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler, according to reports.

The ‘seven-year rule’ stops Houston offering any picks after 2025. Houston also cannot offer consecutive first-round selections, which means the 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025 picks would head to Minnesota in this deal. Picks cannot be protected unless they do not roll over into the following season. This is an all-in deal for the Rockets.

The Rockets were linked with Butler initially, but a trade seemed hard to get done. Houston are in a salary cap nightmare and do not have the assets of other interested parties. Houston, though, are linked with any big name. This team is honed to win in the next year or two and worry about the future when we get there.

This is a Brooklyn Nets type of deal. Minnesota might want players who can help them right now, but that number of first round picks is tempting.

The Timberwolves without Butler are barely a playoff team. No trade partner will give them a piece that will change that. It might not be what Tom Thibodeau wants, but Minnesota need to play the long game here. They have their two stars (Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns) locked down to lengthy deals and both players should (and Minnesota need them to) improve. The loaded West is a tough place to be right now. Accepting a quiet 2019 and 2020 has to be on the front office’s mind, particularly as they are so far away from even making the second round without Butler.

Houston’s 2019 pick will be a late one. The 2021 pick might be too. The 2023 and 2025 picks are very hard to predict (and may well be traded away by the T-Wolves), but there’s a chance that the Rockets are struggling by then with Chris Paul and James Harden on long, expensive contracts. First round picks are not all going to turn into Ben Simmons or Jayson Tatum. It makes sense that Minnesota want proven NBA players, but this deal gives them several dice rolls that should – at the very least – provide them with nice complementary players.

Aside from what those picks would allow them to do in other trades – like shift unwanted salary – they give the chance of landing a player like Butler. He was selected 30th overall. Draymond Green was a second-rounder. This offer has the highest potential value of any reported package for Butler.

Minnesota could benefit from Houston’s desperation after a 1-3 start. We do not know what else was included in the deal (perhaps Houston want Minnesota to take some salary), but the Timberwolves should strongly consider an offer with that many first round picks. The two teams should be looking to compete in different windows – that’s what might make them fitting trade partners.

 

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Sam is a widely published freelance writer, covering basketball, baseball and a range of other sports. He's still trying to decide if he prefers a rundown shot block or a smooth double play. Twitter: @SamRCox_