After losing 4-1 in the NBA Finals to the Warriors, the Cavaliers are on the clock to regroup, reload and run it back once more before LeBron James becomes a free agent in 2018. So adding three-time NBA All-Star Jimmy Butler — which ESPN’s Marc Stein reports the team is working to achieve — would certainly would bode well for the immediate future of the franchise.
Stein’s report states that Cleveland, which does not have many assets to offer, has been working to strike a deal to bring Butler to Cleveland that could involve another team.
Although Cleveland owned a historically great offensive unit in 2016-17, its defense — which allowed 121.6 points per game in the Finals — was clearly the team’s biggest deficiency. It ranked eighth out of 16 playoff teams in defensive rating. So the objective in acquiring Butler, it seems, is to address its biggest weakness.
Adding Butler would not only adequately address Cleveland’s struggles on defense — Butler is a three-time All-Defensive Second Team honoree whose calling card is his defensive prowess — but it could also bolster the roster with another offensive playmaker. The 27-year-old from Marquette averaged 23.9 points and 5.5 assists per game last season as Chicago’s go-to option, both of which were career-highs.
If Cleveland is able to loop a third team in to strike a multi-team deal in acquiring Butler, the Phoenix Suns could be a viable option according to the Chicago Tribune’s K.C. Johnson. However, Cleveland has competition for Butler, as the Minnesota Timberwolves are reportedly also looking to acquire him via trade.
With Cleveland’s decision to part ways with general manager David Griffin, however, the team’s push to acquire him could be drastically altered. Especially considering Griffin’s intimate involvement with the process that he was reportedly “elbow deep” in on Monday. The two sides “just couldn’t agree on future” according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski, which could potentially include the potential acquiring of Butler that Griffin was said to have been elbow deep in late into Monday afternoon.
Cleveland is nearing a crossroads as a franchise with LeBron’s free agency looming, and it seems they are pushing their chips to the middle of the table to try and surround him with the best talent possible to compete with Golden State in the final year of his contract. Adding Butler, in the prime of his career, to a core that includes Kyrie Irving and LeBron James could be enough to get the Cavs back on top of the NBA, but it could also put into question the status of Kevin Love’s future with the organization.