While Kawhi Leonard was the first superstar to request a trade over the summer, he was joined shortly after by a disgruntled Jimmy Butler. In both cases, the saga took several weeks to unfold and reach a conclusion.
Leonard’s request overlapped with free agency, which along with the San Antonio Spurs’ high asking price, complicated the process. When the Los Angeles Lakers agreed to terms with LeBron James, there was a thought they’d next focus on trading for Leonard.
Los Angeles ultimately opted to keep their young core intact, and Leonard was sent to the Toronto Raptors in a trade that included DeMar DeRozan.
Meanwhile, Butler was forced to begin the season still a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves as Tom Thiodeau refused to trade his star. But after an 0-5 road trip in which Butler played in four games, he was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the 76ers made the splash under the expectation of re-signing Butler when he becomes a 2019 free agent:
Sixers and Butler aren't allowed to enter into a negotiation or a agree on an extension yet, but barring physical issues or Butler failing to fit into the Embiid-Simmons dynamic both sides are optimistic on a long-term future. Sixers would be paying a steep price for a rental. https://t.co/eJv11Ynfsc
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 10, 2018
Should Butler indeed stand pat, it will mean one less option for the Lakers in their two-year free agency plan. Though, there were mixed reports on whether Butler is receptive to playing alongside James.
At the time of identifying his preferred trade destinations, Butler reportedly did not include the Lakers on the list. He did name the Clippers, who are in position to have to max-contract free agency slots in 2019 and could wind up being the most affected.