The Miami Heat had made significant progress on a trade package for Jimmy Butler this weekend, but proposed changes from Minnesota created a breakdown in negotiations just as the teams were close to finalizing the deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Shams Charania of The Athletic and Marc Stein of the New York Times.
ESPN Sources: Minnesota-Miami talks escalated close to a Jimmy Butler deal over weekend – only to see trade fall apart. Minnesota shared Butler’s medical info with Miami, owners were involved and sides prepared to finalize. Minnesota pushed for more, talks fractured.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 7, 2018
Those talks can always start again, but Minnesota has little else, if anything, going in the marketplace. Teams had backed away because of price and belief Minny would get deal w/ Miami. Sources say owner Glen Taylor's mandate stands to his front office: Find a deal for Butler. https://t.co/LIXQwXPKkl— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 7, 2018
Sources on @TheAthleticNBA@WatchStadium: Minnesota and Miami have seriously discussed several frameworks of a potential deal for Jimmy Butler, including ones with Heat's Josh Richardson. Medicals shared both ways. Timberwolves do not appear any closer a deal.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 7, 2018
The Wolves and Heat were making significant progress on a Jimmy Butler trade this week, league sources say, before deal changes proposed by Minnesota led to a breakdown in talks— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 4, 2018
The teams reportedly advanced to the point of exchanging player medical information, which is typically the last step of NBA trade negotiations. Except for this trade, the Timberwolves responded with an amendment to the framework of the deal, according to Wojnarowski, which caused the trade talks to "fracture". Here's more from ESPN on what reportedly caused the deal to break down:
Minnesota and Miami had been discussing deals that included a third team to take on salary, as well as doing a direct trade between only the Timberwolves and Heat, league sources said. Miami had softened on including guard Josh Richardson in versions of a possible deal for Butler, only to recoil once Minnesota pushed late for a sweeter return on the four-time All-Star forward, league sources said.
Talks between the two teams could restart again, but it appears there would need to be a resetting process between Miami and Minnesota, league sources said. Minnesota has been engaged with no serious talks elsewhere on Butler, with teams believing that a Miami deal was inevitable and the Timberwolves steep asking price often remaining a non-starter in talks, league sources said.
Minnesota had really pushed Miami to include Richardson in any proposed deal. Richardson, 25, is considered a strong, young two-way player. He averaged 12.9 points in 81 starts last season.
Miami had been searching for a third team to re-route a contract, which included conversations on Miami guard Dion Waiters, sources said. Incentivizing a third team with draft picks became one of the road blocks in Minnesota completing the trade, league sources said.
In any Butler deal, Minnesota had hoped to unload center Gorgui Dieng and the $48 million left on his contract.
The Heat enter 2018-19 with a nearly identical roster as last season, when they went 44-38 to secure the No. 6 seed. The addition of Butler could be enough to vault Miami into the top half of the Eastern Conference.
Butler, a four-time All-Star, averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season. He had a minor procedure done on his right hand in July after meniscus surgery on his right knee in February, an injury that kept him out for 21 games in 2017-18.
Butler holds a player option on his contract next season, but it is widely expected he will opt out and join a 2019 free-agent market that many expect to be robust. Minnesota's All-Star big man, Karl-Anthony Towns, was entering the final year of his contract in 2018-19 as well. But he signed an extension with the Wolves shortly after training camp opened, securing his place in Minnesota for years to come.
Reports circulated in the offseason that Butler was frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Next season, Wiggins will begin playing on his maximum contract in 2018-19, with a $25 million-plus salary that will account for more than 20 percent of the team’s cap and push the Timberwolves close to the luxury tax threshold.
The Timberwolves acquired Butler from Chicago in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen during the 2017 offseason. The former 30th overall pick helped propel the young Timberwolves to a 47-35 season while earning his fourth consecutive All-Star berth. The Wolves made the playoffs, ending a 14-year drought for the franchise, but they lost 4-1 to the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the first round.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.