With 1-3 start, Rockets reportedly ramp up Jimmy Butler trade efforts again

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The weekend before the NBA season started, trade talks to send Jimmy Butler to the Heat went far enough that Minnesota and Miami shared medical data on players potentially in the deal. Then, somehow, the trade fell apart on the three-yard line. After that the season started, Miami backed off some, and there seemed to be little movement on the Butler trade front.

Now the Rockets have started 1-3 with an offense and defense in the NBA’s bottom 11, and they will be without James Harden for at least a couple of games and new wing defender James Ennis longer than that.

Probably not so coincidentally comes a report the Rockets are ramping up efforts to trade for Jimmy Butler again. From Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

The Houston Rockets are making a renewed bid to acquire Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler, including four future first-round draft picks in their most recent offer, league sources told ESPN…

Houston’s push represents a desire to sacrifice some long-term roster flexibility and go all-in with a legitimate third star to partner with All-NBA guards James Harden and Chris Paul in pursuit of a championship.

The Rockets’ offer constitutes the maximum number of first-round picks allowable in a deal, factoring in league rules that necessitate no first-rounders can be conveyed in successive years, and no pick can be traded farther out than seven seasons.

How exactly would this work?

If one of those picks doesn’t convey because of protection put on it, this could get insanely convoluted.

A few thoughts here:

• Houston one of the teams with some urgency to trade for Butler because they do not have the cap space to sign him as a free agent next summer. Miami is in that same situation. Things are different for teams like the Los Angeles Clippers, who will have the cap space next summer and will offer less because they are willing to wait.

• Rockets GM Daryl Morey realizes his window is now and that getting past the Warriors will require bold moves (and a bit of luck still). He is taking his home run swing. This would be an all-in move for the next two seasons to get a ring, and the price would come after that when the team is capped out, Chris Paul is 37, the window has closed and this team is very, very expensive.

• Houston and Minnesota talked before, and a deal could be done involving Eric Gordon or P.J. Tucker (both of them together would make the numbers work). That seemed to gain little traction.

• Houston still needs to send salary back to Minnesota to balance this out, it just can’t be picks. Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss together would make the numbers work and they can be traded on October 31.

• Is four future first-round picks going to work for Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves? One of the priorities in this trade for Minnesota is to stay good enough now to make the playoffs, a draft pick heavy trade would be focused more on the future and less on this season. It also doesn’t get rid of any bad contracts on the Timberwolves. Plus, the 2019 pick for sure and likely the 2021 one will not be high in the first round.

• Is this leak designed to pull Miami back to the negotiating table in a serious way? Pat Riley has taken a step back from the talks after the last deal fell through and the talks have been recently described as “dormant.”