Report: Clippers, Timberwolves still talking Jimmy Butler trade, hung up on Tobias Harris

Kurt Helin
NBC Sports

The buzz around the league is that the Miami Heat have had the most traction in Jimmy Butler trade talks with Minnesota, but the two sides haven’t been able to reach a deal (with complaints out of Miami that the demands keep changing). Outside of South Beach, the reports have been the market has been pretty cold.

However, the Clippers and Timberwolves are still engaged in talks, they’re just hung up on Tobias Harris, reports Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers have had ongoing discussions about a trade centered around All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

The Timberwolves’ asking price has been deemed too high thus far, with multiple players and picks being requested, sources said.

In any deal with the Clippers, Minnesota would prefer to acquire forward Tobias Harris, sources said. Various trade packages have been proposed on both sides, but the Clippers do not intend to trade Harris, sources said.

Remember, the Clippers are one of Butler’s preferred destinations.

It doesn’t sound like there is much traction there for this deal, at least not in the short-term. There is a sense around the league Coach/GM Tom Thibodeau just wants to get Butler back on the court in Minnesota and win, so he is dragging this out.

Whatever the reasoning behind it, this report leads to a couple of questions:

• Was this leaked to try to light a fire under Minnesota trade talks with Miami? Sort of a “we have other options” leak?

• Why wouldn’t the Clippers put Harris in a trade? Right now, Butler is the better player, a top 10-12 NBA player and maybe higher if he can stay healthy. He changes the team’s dynamic, but rubs some teammates the wrong way could bolt this summer. Harris is making $14.8 million this season and will be a free agent next summer, also, and with the Clippers averaged an efficient 19.3 points per game (41.4 percent shooting from three) plus six rebounds a night. He played just below an All-Star level last season in Detroit before coming over, and the Clippers really like him as a key piece for them moving forward.

Maybe the Clippers believe they can sign Butler as a free agent next summer and want to pair him with Harris. Or, perhaps the Clippers look at Harris as a player who is just 26 and has a lot fewer miles on him than Butler, who will turn 30 before he signs that max contract next summer and has Tom Thibodeau miles on his legs.

Whatever the reason, the Clippers are acting like a team that can be patient and take their shot to land in free agency, rather than overpaying now. It’s hard to see how a deal gets done between these teams if Harris is off the board.

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