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Report: Timberwolves, Heat were making ‘significant progress’ on Jimmy Butler trade until Minnesota changed proposal

Minnesota Timberwolves v Miami Heat

MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 30: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives on Goran Dragic #7 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on October 30, 2017 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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We’ve learned a little about what the Heat are offering for Jimmy Butler – Goran Dragic and/or Hassan Whiteside, but not Josh Richardson or Bam Adebayo. With Miami Butler’s reported preferred destination, the Heat have additional incentive to trade for him, as they’ll have a better chance of re-signing him this summer.

Will Miami complete a deal for Butler?

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

This will only fuel skepticism about Timberwolves president Tom Thibodeau actually trading Butler. The quick (and fun) assumption: Thibodeau sabotaged negotiations so he could keep his star player.

But I’m always leery of these reports. One team’s ‘significant progress’ isn’t necessarily the other team’s. Minnesota might have never viewed talks as gaining traction.

Especially without including Richardson or Adebayo, it’s hard to see the Heat making a compelling offer. Butler is far more valuable than Dragic, and Dragic is only a marginal upgrade over Timberwolves point guard Jeff Teague. Miami shopped Whiteside earlier in the offseason without finding positive value for him.

Both Butler and rival teams have incentive to paint Minnesota’s front office as unreasonable. They want Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor – by no means a basketball expert – to step in and trade Butler himself, presumably for less return and more quickly than Thibodeau would do.

So, consider the idea Minnesota’s front office is being overly difficult. It’s certainly possible. But don’t blindly accept it, either.