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Here are players Heat, Rockets and Bucks reportedly offering for Jimmy Butler

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The Timberwolves have reportedly offered Jimmy Butler to the 76ers for Ben Simmons and Bucks for Khris Middleton, getting rejected both times.

But what kind of offers is Minnesota getting for the disgruntled star? The Rockets and Heat (with evident limitations) are interested, and apparently the Timberwolves’ request didn’t scare off Milwaukee like it did Philadelphia.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

My understanding is from talking to numerous league officials, league sources, front-office folks, a coach – actually, a couple coaching sources – that the Wolves have all the parameters of the deals that they can make. So, it’s on the Wolves at some point here to say yes.

Now, do they wait a little bit longer just to see if some team adds a player in – like Miami? Miami is not willing to move Josh Richardson, but in the end, do they offer Josh Richardson?

But, so far, as of October 2nd, no sense whatsoever that Miami is making Josh Richardson available. Same goes for Bam Adebayo. Is Goran Dragic available? Yeah. The Wolves could acquire Goran Dragic. Is Hassan Whiteside available? Yeah, the Wolves could acquire Hassan Whiteside.

From Houston, you can get Eric Gordon. You can get P.J. Tucker. The Rockets want Jimmy Butler.

The Bucks are willing to move Brogdon, Bledsoe. The Bucks still have interest in Jimmy Butler. They’re not willing to move Middleton.

The Clippers are also still very, very interested in Jimmy Butler.

Now, league folks still say keep an eye on Miami, that Miami wants him the most. He wants to be in Miami – not that the Wolves care about that, but hey, if he wants to be in Miami, and Miami wants him, that eventually you can find some sort of happy medium, find a way to complete a trade.

It’s unclear whether each team mentioned is offering both the named players in proposals or only one per proposal.

Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon for Butler would work salary-cap-wise. But there would be diminishing returns for the Bucks dealing their best two point guards, leaving the position to Matthew Dellavedova, and Minnesota adding two point guards to a roster that already has Jeff Teague, Tyus Jones and Derrick Rose. This also just isn’t enough value for the Timberwolves.

Gordon and Tucker for Butler would also work cap-wise. That trade could be the most sensible, especially if Tom Thibodeau prioritizes the present.

Dragic and Whiteside for Butler would not work cap-wise, though Butler could be traded straight up for either Miami player. But neither Whiteside nor Dragic is nearly as valuable as Butler.

However, it’s difficult to evaluate these offers without knowing the exact parameters. Are other players involved? Picks? This information is interesting, but limited.

Mostly, though, it points to the Timberwolves not receiving enough value for Butler in an offer yet.

Mike Budenholzer bolsters Bucks

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The Bucks had a superstar. They had another borderline All-Star. They had a solid supporting cast.

And now they have a workable vision.

Milwaukee made the biggest coaching upgrade of the year, going from Jason Kidd/interim Joe Prunty to Mike Budenholzer. Add a couple complementary signings, and the Bucks are coming together.

The Celtics, Raptors and 76ers are in the Eastern Conference’ post-LeBron James first class. Milwaukee fits into the next tier with the Pacers, but an ascension to the top tier appears more likely than a drop lower.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is elite. Khris Middleton is underrated. The rest of the rotation is solid throughout.

The goal must be ending a 17-year playoff-series-victory drought, the NBA’s longest going.

Budenholzer should help. The Bucks got him with the Raptors in hot pursuit, a coup for small-market Milwaukee. (An aside: Would Budenholzer have picked Toronto if he knew Kawhi Leonard would be there?) Budenholzer is not the NBA’s best coach, but he needn’t be.

Whatever innovation Kidd’s switching defense brought, opponents had mostly solved it. His offensive philosophy was dated. And he’d worn out relationships with his players.

Budenholzer had a strong record of player development with the Hawks. His defenses have been sound. And his offense is modern.

To that end, the Bucks signed stretch bigs Ersan Ilyasova and Brook Lopez.

Ilyasova was surprisingly expensive. Milwaukee guaranteed him $7 million each of the next two seasons, and he has an early guarantee date (two days after the 2020 draft) for his $7 million salary the following year. But he just knows how to play. Ilyasova is a good shooter and heady defender who takes advantage of his keen understanding of positioning with a willingness to take charges.

Lopez was a bargain on a one-year, $3,382,000 contract. He might start at center. At minimum, he’s more dependable than Thon Maker. Lopez has quickly become one of the NBA’s better 3-point-shooting centers, and he’s a solid interior defender.

Budenholzer knows how to effectively spread the floor using bigs like Ilyasova and Lopez. And Milwaukee already had good backcourt shooters in Tony Snell and Malcolm Brogdon. It’s downright scary how much space Antetokounmpo will have, whether it’s attacking one-on-one or in pick-and-rolls with Eric Bledsoe.

Landing Ilyasova and Lopez came at a cost, though. The Bucks let Jabari Parker walk, a historically quick exit for the former No. 2 pick.

The failure to get nothing for him can’t be pinned solely on this offseason. Matching the Bulls’ $20 million salary for him wouldn’t have necessarily been wise. Considering Milwaukee’s obvious unwillingness to pay the luxury tax, it was untenable.

But how did the Bucks not see this coming? Why didn’t they move Parker before the trade deadline? And why did they allow him to become an unrestricted free agent in the latter stages of his free agency?

Parker’s two-year deal with Chicago wouldn’t have been possible as an offer sheet, which is required for restricted free agents. The contract contains a team option, and offer sheets must be for at least two years not counting options. If Milwaukee kept Parker restricted – even without an intention to match – the Bulls would have been forced to sign him to a different contract, one not as favorable to them or Parker. Chicago probably would have just made the second year unguaranteed – a small, but noteworthy, difference. But the Bulls never had to make that choice, because the Bucks let Parker become unrestricted.

Chicago isn’t close to challenging the Bucks. But Antetokounmpo is just 23. The Bulls could definitely become competitive during Antetokounmpo’s prime, and Milwaukee – out of kindness to Parker or fealty to his agent, Mark Bartelstein – made it easier for them to build.

The Bucks also drafted Donte DiVincenzo with the No. 17 and signed Pat Connaughton for slightly more than the minimum. I don’t expect either to contribute much this year.

Antetokounmpo gives Milwaukee a wide-open window. Middleton and Bledsoe are headed toward unrestricted free agency next summer, and the 2019 offseason will go a long way in shaping this team long-term.

But the Bucks have a serious chance this year to have their best season in a long time, and that matters.

They were always due to take a step forward next season. Their moves this summer just push them along a little more.

Offseason grade: B-

Report: Greg Monroe signing with Raptors

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Greg Monroe – according to his agent, David Falk – had max-contract offers from the Knicks, Lakers, Trail Blazers and Bucks in 2015. Monroe reportedly could have chosen his contract length, from one to four years. He picked a three-year deal with Milwaukee.

Three years later, instead of entering the final season of a max contract, Monroe will settle for about a minimum salary.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Monroe’s minimum is $2,165,481. I bet he gets that, especially because if he gets any more, the Raptors would have to pay and be taxed at his full salary. With Monroe on a minimum deal, Toronto would have to pay and be taxed at just $1,512,601 (the league covering the rest).

Monroe is a skilled interior scorer, strong rebounder and heady passer. But has neither the leaping ability to protect the rim nor foot speed to defend on the perimeter. It’s hard to build a sound defense with him at center, and that becomes especially problematic deeper into the playoffs. Monroe – who was sent to the Suns in the Eric Bledsoe trade, got bought out then signed with the Celtics – fell out of Boston’s playoff rotation fairly quickly last season.

With Kawhi Leonard, Toronto is definitely eying more postseason success. But Monroe was also the best free agent left on the market, and the Raptors needed depth behind Jonas Valanciunas. This is a minimum (or so) signing. Toronto needn’t panic about Monroe’s role in hte postseason. He should help in the regular season and in some playoff matchups.

Monroe might even allow the Raptors to trade Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors are reportedly looking to trim salary, and Valanciunas (two years and $34,157,302 remaining) is a logical candidate to be moved. Toronto would miss him, but Monroe provides a value version. Deep in the playoffs, Serge Ibaka might become the Raptors primary center regardless.

Report: Bucks waive Brandon Jennings

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Brandon Jennings apparently thought his $2,222,803 salary was guaranteed.

Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:

Actually, it was unguaranteed until July 1. But – for some reason – he agreed to push back his guaranteed date to Aug. 1.

Spears:

That decision backfired for Jennings.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The Bucks kept Jennings until now in case they wanted him, but have apparently decided they don’t – at least not enough to guarantee his salary at this point. Eric Bledsoe, Matthew Dellavedova, Malcolm Brogdon and Giannis Antetokounmpo are capable of playing point guard. Milwaukee could also sign another point guard.

Jennings, 28, has struggled in stints with the Knicks, Wizards and Bucks the last couple years. Maybe he gets a minimum deal elsewhere, but many teams have filled their point-guard depth chart by now. Which is why Jennings should have forced Milwaukee to decide on his contract a month ago.

Lakers looking long-term — or at least to 2019 — in building with LeBron

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When LeBron James started winning rings and at least making it to the Finals every year (eight and counting) coincided with when he took charge of his own destiny and got into team building.

He chose to break with tradition and partner up with two other stars — Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh — down in Miami. It was a move changed the landscape of the NBA. When the Heat situation no longer worked for him, LeBron went home again and pushed for roster moves he wanted — starting with moving Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love — and it all led to the four trips to the Finals and the first title for the city of Cleveland in more than five decades.

Now LeBron comes to Los Angeles — however, the process with the Lakers is not going to be as fast. It will take a little patience.

Heading into free agency there was no doubt LeBron James wanted to be a Laker, but plenty of people in the league were not convinced he would go on his own — he’d want another superstar player to come first. L.A. had to set up a team that could win right now because LeBron at age 33 was not going to wait around. Everyone knew LeBron plus the existing Lakers core is not going to be enough in the brutal West.

LeBron once again defied expectations and jumped in with both feet — he agreed to a four-year, $154 million contract with the Lakers.

Now it becomes about team building in Los Angeles.

That building starts with LeBron trusting Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka in a way he never trusted Dan Gilbert and the Cavaliers organization — he gave the Lakers four years (three plus one year with a player option, technically). In Cleveland, it was a series of one-year deals, and even when they won a championship it was only two years. He never gave up leverage, he pushed them as an organization (with mixed results). In Los Angeles, he planted a flag for the long haul.

How is this Lakers team going to get built? Patience not rushed decisions. This is not just a summer of 2018 project, lining up the right players to contend will stretch into 2019. At least.

Kawhi Leonard is the first name to come up — and make no mistake, LeBron would love to have the Spurs’ Finals MVP on the wing. If healthy, Leonard is exactly the kind of running mate LeBron needs to start to threaten Golden State — an elite switchable defender who can hit threes and create off the dribble. Leonard is an MVP-level player when right.

However, the Spurs want to extract the best price they can for surrendering their best player. As they should. San Antonio is not going to move fast, and they want to drag multiple teams into a bidding war — Philadelphia wants to play, Boston is on the fringes, and the Spurs are trying to lure them in. San Antonio is going to slow play this.

The Lakers are not waiting around. Los Angeles doesn’t feel the pressure to land Leonard to get LeBron. The sides will keep talking, but a trade that guts the L.A. roster of young players isn’t mandatory to get the big prize. Los Angeles has what it most wanted.

Instead, the Lakers’ moves in the wake of signing LeBron show a team thinking about the summer of 2019. Everything has been one-year deals — Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (for $12 million), Lance Stephenson ($4.4 million room exception), and JaVale McGee (for the minimum). Those are players who can help the Lakers compete now but who do not carry salaries over into next summer.

That summer of 2019 is when a host of free agents come up: Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Eric Bledsoe, and Kemba Walker are the biggest names, plus guys such as Kevin Love and Al Horford have player options. Anyone who comes on the market, the Lakers can be in the mix to land if they so choose.

The Lakers are also positioned to go after any player who becomes available in a trade — the Lakers have a nice young core that can be moved for the right star.

That young core is excited about LeBron to the Lakers.

Now comes the harsh light of evaluation on those players — which ones can help win a title for the Lakers, and which ones are out. The days of patient evaluation and growth measurement are over in a lot of ways, it’s about winning and winning big. Can Brandon Ingram help with that? Lonzo Ball? Kyle Kuzma?

Julius Randle could be back with the Lakers on a one-year deal, or if he signs the qualifying offer because there are not other offers out there (it’s a very tight market), but the Lakers are not sacrificing their cap space for anyone.

Flexibility is the buzzword for Los Angeles going forward. That and patience.

The Lakers trust that the combined gravity of playing with LeBron and the Lakers’ brand/market is going to bring in star players. LeBron has bet on that as well. It’s just not going to be instantaneous. Maybe the best options pop up this summer (Leonard). Maybe it’s something unexpected closer to the trade deadline. Maybe it’s the summer of 2019. Whatever it is, the Lakers have left themselves the flexibility to go after it and make it happen.

LeBron is back in the business of team building — and this could be his most legacy-defining building project to date. But now he has a partner.