The King's Cities
Three times Lebron James has changed zip codes during his run as one of the best players in the NBA. With each relocation, the team that he has joined has become an instant title contender but the Heat, Cavs & Lakers (most likely) have not solely benefitted. In going to Miami and going back to Cleveland the wake of the "king's" move has benefitted the Timberwolves. First it brought Michael Beasley to the Twin Cities when he was still considered a young and promising player. Then came the return to Cleveland that allowed Flip Saunders to turn a dissatisfied Kevin Love into the #1 pick, Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins has underwhelmed in all ways beyond his ability to score but it was still a great move for the organization.
Those moves only came to be through the ability to capitalize by those in charge of the Timberwolves but Minnesota being a solid runner up after both moves is hard to deny, in my opinion at least. But what does that have to do with today?
A little over one year ago, the penguin pulled off a deal that put the Timberwolves in the spotlight as a top team in the Western conference. It was a gamble from day one because it meant sending three young and promising rotation level guys to Chicago for one all NBA level player on a two year contract. The first year went okay but was diminished when Butler got hurt late & the team couldn't maintain their top four trajectory. They still got into the playoffs but it could have been better. So we have one year left with Jimmy Butler before things get VERY dicey!
That's all the background but again, what does that have to do with right now? Well it's been speculated that the Lakers are a potential destination for Butler, up until yesterday. Not because he wouldn't want to play with Lebron, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably would be a great running mate with the "king." BUT there's that little thing called the salary cap. With the Lebron deal, the other agreements that the Lakers have made and their prior contractual obligations, they are already above the cap but maybe not into the luxury tax. It really is overly complicated! So a lot of the talk is that the Lakers will still look to add another top guy to their roster this year. It would almost have to be via a trade because of the financials that I already mentioned and Kawhi Leonard is the name at the top of the trade market. But a trade would not open up much or any space in the cap unless they managed to really wamboozle the Spurs...which never happens.
And as things stand it would be nearly unchanged from the current situation for the Lakers. So what does that have to do with the Timberwolves and Jimmy Butler? If the Lakers are a preferred destination for him but they don't have money to spend next year then he cannot go there. If he loves LA so much he could still join the Clippers but what a waste of his prime that would be! Now granted, there are 27 other organizations that could make a push for him but how many of them would be more attractive then what the Wolves already have?
Obviously it would hinge on him not despising Andrew Wiggins or KAT but the answer is very few teams. None of them would have a coach that he still supposedly likes either so for all the whining by fans like myself & much higher profile media people as well, having Thibs could be the difference between the Wolves keeping their best player and losing him for nothing.
They could trade him. Getting something is better than nothing but I would consider that a long shot.
Likewise with the possibility of extending him now. They're up against the cap themselves and why would he cost himself a couple dump trucks worth of money? The correct answer is that he wouldn't.
So we have to sit and wait for how the rest of the off season and then the real season plays out but Lebron may have done another favor for Minnesota. It may be inadvertent but I don't have a problem with the team riding the wakes of the league's best player's banana boat! Hopefully by coming to terms with Lebron James the Lakers pushed themselves out of the bidding for Jimmy Butler next summer! 🤞🤞🤞
I know it's a stretch but in a way, the Twin Cities have become the "king's" city, even without him every playing here! That's poetically Minnesotan but darn well true.