By holding onto Jimmy Butler for so long, the Minnesota Timberwolves were clearly hoping a surprise team would enter the running and blow them away with a massive offer. And while a dark horse did eventually enter talks, the knock-you-off-your-feet package never came.
That team? The New Orleans Pelicans. Their official offer? We’re not quite sure. But it seems the Timberwolves came to an unnavigable impasse by insisting upon Jrue Holiday’s inclusion, according to ESPN.com’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Minnesota desperately tried to cobble together trade offers in the past week, including extensive discussions with New Orleans, league sources said. The Pelicans are limited on tradeable assets, but desperate to find star power to keep Anthony Davis for the long run. The Pelicans wouldn’t include point guard Jrue Holiday in its offer, nor multiple draft picks, league sources said.
Had the Pelicans agreed to build a deal around Holiday, it arguably would have been a bad move for both teams. Butler is a flight risk, and giving up your second-best player for said dice roll would have been a pretty big gamble for New Orleans. Minnesota, meanwhile, is at the very least entering a brief transition period. Paying near-max money for a 28-year-old Holiday doesn’t jibe with their future…or their books, which will include maxes for both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins next season.
If I had to guess, the Pelicans were offering something along the lines of E’Twaun Moore, Nikola Mirotic and a first-round pick. Getting rid of Mirotic might’ve seemed too rich for them, but they have Julius Randle to take over as the starting 4. If that were the package, perhaps another first-rounder gets a deal done. If the Pelicans were dangling Solomon Hill instead of Mirotic, then, well, this conversation probably didn’t last very long.
Indeed, pairing Anthony Davis with Butler would have been intriguing. But the Pelicans are right to show restraint. There’s no guarantee Butler would have stayed, and even if he did, paying him into his mid-30s while giving up what would have probably been multiple firsts is too steep of a cost—especially with AD’s future up in the air.