As the regular season opened, the volume of trades talks around guard Jimmy Butler had hit a low since Butler requested the Wolves move him over a month ago.
But that changed on Thursday with a report that the Houston Rockets are making a serious pitch for Butler, who is set to become a free agent after the season.
The Rockets made an offer to the Wolves that included four first-round picks, ESPN reported.
The four first-round picks are the maximum allowed in any trade under NBA rules and would have to be applied in every other year over the span of seven years, beginning with the 2019 draft. The protections on those picks would likely be limited, the report said.
The offer creates an interesting situation for coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau. Such a deal would have an eye more toward the future of the franchise while Thibodeau has a desire to win games now. Would he be reluctant to pull the move on such a deal that might harm the Wolves chances of making the playoffs this season, when his job could be potentially on the line?
But the deal also might indicate that Thibodeaus initial unwillingness to trade Butler and hold out for a better deal might be working in the Wolves favor. Initially, the Heat did not want to include young guard Josh Richardson in talks for Butler, then the Heat reportedly offered Richardson before talks between the Wolves and Heat broke down at the last minute more than two weeks ago. Now the Rockets are offering the maximum amount of first-round picks allowable under NBA rules.
Even though Butler is playing with the team now, owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, recently said the organization would honor Butlers trade request as long as Butler returned to the team and played hard in the meantime.
I think [Butler has] made it very clear that he would not re-sign with us at the end of the year and therefore it is in our interest to get a trade so that we can get a player or two to replace him that helps our team, Taylor told the Star Tribune last week.