SACRAMENTO -- The NBA rumor mill is in full force. Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves are having a messy breakup, and it’s only going to get worse from here.
According to an NBA source, the Kings are listening and even willing to participate in a large-scale trade involving the Timberwolves and others, but only if it benefits the team both in the short term and down the road.
The Kings currently sit $11 million under the NBA’s salary cap. In addition to pure cap space, veterans Zach Randolph ($11.7 million), Iman Shumpert ($11 million), Kosta Koufos ($8.7 million) and Ben McLemore ($5.4 million) all have expiring contracts that could be used to acquire young players or future picks.
Sacramento has been reluctant to add major contracts beyond this season. The team has an estimated $60 million in cap room next summer and hopes to jump into the free agent market with both feet. But the time to strike might come earlier if the right package of players and assets come available.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Kings were dragged into the conversation when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski added his latest update to the Butler saga, writing: "To facilitate a Butler trade, the sort of broader deal necessary to meet the financial needs of Minnesota and Butler's future team, circumstances will necessitate bringing the Sacramento Kings into the process.”
Wojnarowski went on to add that the Kings are the only team with real cap space to work with, and they have a bevy of expiring contracts as well.
“Assistant GM Brandon Williams has informed teams that the Kings aren't opposed to parking contracts that extend into the 2019-20 season, including (Gorgui) Dieng,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Whatever happens with the Butler deal, the Kings are determined to use that $11 million in cap space and their expiring contracts to gather more assets for the future.”
This is a good place to be if you're the Kings. It’s also a position they have worked hard to create. The February trade of George Hill opened room for this season, and their preference for short-term contracts with an eye toward the summer of 2019 has them sitting pretty.
Whether they would look at a deal that includes a player such as Dieng, who is owed $48 million over the next three seasons, is unknown at this time, but they already have a crowded frontcourt and have looked to avoid contracts like this in the past.
The Kings are open for business, but they also know the Butler talks won’t be their only opportunity this season to get involved and that they are the only real option for a deal involving a third team with cap space.
Stay tuned. It will be an interesting couple of days as the Timberwolves look to deal one of the best two-way players in the game.