Should the Washington Wizards Trade for Jimmy Butler?

Washington Wizards (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards (Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The clamorous Jimmy Butler is reportedly unhappy once again. Could the Washington Wizards be his next stop?

Hear me out. This might not be as crazy as it sounds: Pursuing Jimmy Butler could be what the Washington Wizards need, or at least something they consider.

At first glance, this seems like throwing more gas on an already-burning fire. As Wizards fans are aware, the team hasn’t necessarily been the most cohesive unit this season. Reports of frustration and tension within the locker room have been out there since the start of the season.

Butler’s reputation isn’t exactly that of a peacemaker either. He’s on his third team in as many years, forcing his way out from both the Chicago Bulls prior to last season and most recently from the Minnesota Timberwolves, where expressed his dissatisfaction with the direction of both franchises.

Just a couple months into his latest landing spot on the Philadelphia 76ers, the four-time All-Star is already growing irritated with his role on the team, reportedly calling out coach Brett Brown in a film session. This came amid inklings that the rest of Philadelphia’s Big Three, comprised of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, weren’t on the best of terms.

Looming over all of this is also the fact that Butler is a free agent this summer if he declines his player option. It was assumed that the Sixers pulled the trigger on the deal with the belief that he would resign with the team, but who knows for certain.

So would he be a good fit for the Wizards? Should the Wizards at least kick the tires on bringing him to DC?

From a positional standpoint, Butler fits an opening where the Wizards could improve. The team doesn’t have a forward that has the All-NBA caliber talent like Butler’s combined with his toughness, defensive tenacity, and competitive instinct.

From a salary cap standpoint, it would be difficult. It ultimately begins and ends where most hypothetical high-level Wizards transactions begin: Can the team move one of its max contract players (John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter) in order to improve? To make the Butler fit work, it makes the most sense to find a suitor for Porter. One option could be offering Porter to the Sixers, who may be content with the star power of Embiid and Simmons and would want a replacement wing who can space the floor if they moved on from Butler.

There’s also a universe where the Sixers take on Ian Mahinmi‘s contract, along with another player and likely picks, in return for Butler. If the Sixers ever seriously consider Butler, getting equal value for him won’t be feasible at that point as he will be considered a pariah by then, so the team’s asking price for what it can get in exchange will have to be lowered.

This ultimately brings us to the chemistry issue with Butler. At this point, there’s no denying that it’d be a gamble and potentially a powder keg that the Wizards don’t need. Plus, with many of Butler’s complaints have been about not having the ball in his hands enough, a ball-dominant player like Wall may not mesh well.

That said, the Wizards could benefit from an alpha personality that challenges its fellow stars, as Butler did in Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Wall and Beal clearly have high expectations of themselves and for the team. Their frustration comes out in unproductive ways, but it often seems to be the result of the team falling short rather than selfish reasons.

That’s why Wall and Beal could rise to the challenge that Butler would give them. In a sense, Butler could bring out what Paul Pierce did for Wall and Beal in their younger years by being a hard-nosed veteran with goals of not just making the playoffs, but advancing far into them.

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A Big Three of Wall, Beal, and Butler would be an explosive combination of players. And I mean that in more ways than one. At best, it could ignite the team to the top of the Eastern Conference. At worst, it could blow up completely.