The Portland Trail Blazers could add bubble-superstar Jimmy Butler
Aside from the Miami Heat culture, there may not be a better fit for Jimmy Butler than the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers perfectly account for Butler’s weaknesses, while also desperately needing all of his strengths.
There’s a good chance that this trade is completely off the table, but the Heat’s surprisingly quick exit this postseason might open the door to this possibility. After a Cinderella run to the Finals in 2020, this Heat team flamed out in four quick games in a rematch against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Many pundits have now labeled the Heat’s finals run a fluke, a product of a pandemic-ridden season and a bubble with conditions perfect for Miami’s hardnosed culture.
If President Pat Riley and the Miami Heat brass decide that it’s time to part ways with JB, Portland should jump at the chance to swing this deal.
Why the Blazers do it:
Three of the Blazer biggest deficiencies would be filled at an elite level if they add Jimmy Butler.
- Perimeter defense
- Secondary playmaking
JB’s prowess as a lockdown wing defender speaks for itself. He finished 10th in defensive player of the year voting this season and is a regular feature on the yearly ballots. He’s made the all-defensive team twice in his career.
He has more career steals, 1033, than fouls, 908.
He’s one of the best playmakers at his position. He averaged 7.1 assists per game this year, good for 4th among forwards behind only Draymond Green, Luka Doncic, and LeBron James. He finished 11th in the league in potential assists per game, just ahead of renowned maestro and MVP Nikola Jokic. He also makes his passes count, registering an assist for every 12.9 passes thrown.
Adding JB’s ability to create would give the Blazers another true playmaker, take stress off of Dame to create offense, and would allow Lillard to run through countless screens for open triples.
The Blazers lack of an interior shot creator was exposed in their first round series against the Denver Nuggets. Every now and then, the offense would bog down as the team continued to clank 3-balls, open or not.
Aside from Lillard and a little bit from Powell, the Blazers lack a player who can put his head down and get to the rim for either a lay-up or two free throws.
Jimmy is one of the most aggressive slashers in the league. He finished top five in drives per game at 18.5. His willingness to barrel into the paint on almost every possession led to a lot of his assists and his high free throw average at eight per game.
While Butler has proved he’s more than a sufficient number one option, what he lacks is the ability to be a true go-to scorer, specifically from the perimeter.
In Portland, Butler would be surrounded by shooters and would almost never be asked to be a deep threat. And when the Blazers absolutely need a bucket, they’ll continue to turn to Damian Lillard.
This would be a perfect fit for the Blazers and Butler.
Why the Heat do it:
As great as Butler is, he’s currently 31 years old and will turn 32 next season. The Heat made it to the Finals last year and made the playoffs again this season, but their core reflects a young team in the midst of a rebuild.
If the pundits are correct, then this Heat core has already reached its peak with not many options to improve their roster without sacrificing their future.
This trade keeps the Heat competitive in the present, while also adding to their potential.
Here, the Heat add a go-to scorer in CJ McCollum, something they’ve been sorely lacking to aid in their future playoff pushes. They also add a budding star guard in Anfernee Simons who can grow with their young core in Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn, and Duncan Robinson.
They also add two first round picks with which they can add to their core or use as trade chips.
There’s a chance that the Heat could land a better deal than this one, but there’s also a decent chance that they don’t. With Butler’s reputation as a possible locker room cancer and difficult teammate, many teams may hesitate to pitch a deal for him.
Luckily, Butler’s obsessive, sometimes toxic, competitiveness would fit right in next to Damian Lillard. The Heat will find it hard to find a better deal that helps their future while keeping them in the playoff race.
A core of Dame, Powell, JB, RoCo, and Nurk is absolutely championship-caliber and the Blazers should jump at the chance to bring it to fruition.