Jimmy Butler trade update: Rockets trying to acquire Wolves star by offering four first-round draft picks, report says

After posting a franchise-record 65 wins and coming within one victory of making the NBA Finals last season, the Houston Rockets are off to an inauspicious start to the 2018-19 campaign. The departure of Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute have left gaping holes in the Rockets’ wing depth, and so far Carmelo Anthony hasn’t been the answer.

Houston has struggled its way to a 1-3 start, with the 21st-ranked offense, 20th-ranked defense and 23rd-ranked net rating in the league. Things aren’t likely to get better any time soon, as reigning MVP James Harden is expected to miss at least a week with a hamstring injury, while James Ennis and Nene will also miss time.

Given their early-season issues, it’s not surprising that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has reportedly renewed discussions on a possible trade for disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves wing Jimmy Butler. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Houston has re-engaged Minnesota with an offer of four — yes, four — future first-round draft picks.

That’s a lot of first-round picks to give up — we’ve seen how a similar trade set the Brooklyn Nets back for multiple years — but Morey and the Rockets are clearly in win-now mode. Harden is at the peak of his prime and Chris Paul is at the tail-end of his, so their window for success is rapidly closing. Adding Butler would not only give them a third scorer and another isolation threat, but it would also shore up their wing defense, possibly bringing it back to last season’s level (seventh in the NBA).

Despite having a standing trade request, Butler has been putting up his usual strong numbers for the Wolves — 24.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and a league-leading 3.8 steals per game. However, until Butler changes his mind, Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves have to continue to explore trade options.

Draft picks, especially first-rounders, are a hot commodity in today’s NBA, so they would at least have to consider Houston’s offer rather than risk watching Butler walk away from the team for nothing after this season.

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