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Jimmy Butler trade rumors: Warriors expected to show interest if Heat star becomes available, per report - CBSSports.com


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The Golden State Warriors are in a somewhat transitional period in their franchise's history. After winning four championships, the Warriors missed the playoffs with a healthy Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson for the first time after losing their Play-In game against the Sacramento Kings. 

Curry is now 36 and nearing the end of his legendary career. Thompson is slated for unrestricted free agency for the first time in his career. Green went through the longest suspension of his career last season, missing 12 games due to a dirty hit on Phoenix Suns big man Jusuf Nurkic. Owner Joe Lacob has said on the record that his preference would be for the Warriors to duck the luxury tax altogether next season after paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes during their championship seasons. For the first time during the Curry-Green-Thompson era, the future is uncertain.

The Warriors have proven aggressive in the past when faced with roster uncertainty. They famously signed Kevin Durant in free agency in 2016. Last offseason, they made a surprising trade for Chris Paul in a move geared towards both immediate winning and long-term savings, as Jordan Poole's long-term contract looked dicey at the time and now appears to be an outright albatross for the Washington Wizards. Now, the Warriors may be interested in another big name. The Athletic's Anthony Slater expects the Warriors to enter the conversation if the Miami Heat ever make Jimmy Butler available.

Butler, who has spent the past five seasons with the Miami Heat and reached the NBA Finals twice, is reportedly looking for a maximum contract extension. Thus far, the Heat are not known to be willing to give it to him. Multiple teams, however, including the Philadelphia 76ers, reportedly are willing to pay him if they could acquire him through trade. The Warriors may be one of those teams.

Actually landing him would be difficult for the Warriors on several levels. The obvious is asset-based. Golden State's best young players are Jonathan Kuminga, who is somewhat positionally redundant with Bam Adebayo, Jaime Jaquez and Nikola Jovic, and Brandin Podziemski, who overlaps a bit with Tyler Herro, as neither are pure point guards. The Warriors also owe their 2024 and 2030 first-round picks to other teams, meaning that at the moment, they could only send picks out in 2026 and 2028 in a Butler deal because of the Stepien Rule.

Even matching money becomes complicated. Andrew Wiggins and his $26.3 million salary for next season would be a nice start, but how would the Warriors get the rest of the way to Butler's $48.8 million salary? The obvious answer would be to guarantee some of Chris Paul's $30 million salary, all of which is currently non-guaranteed, so he can be included in the trade. The problem with doing so is that the Heat currently have luxury tax issues of their own and may not want to take back Paul, or Wiggins for that matter given the three guaranteed seasons left on his contract. A third team might be necessary.

Even if the Warriors could strike a deal for Butler, they'd then be facing another several years of luxury tax woes. Curry is under contract for two more years, but given his meaning to the franchise, he's almost certain to continue drawing hefty salaries until he ultimately elects to retire. Green's contract is relatively tame by modern standards, but the $24 million he's making next season isn't exactly cheap. Thompson is a free agent, and the Warriors are not known to have offered him more than the two-year, $48 million pact they posed to him last offseason that he declined. Paying Butler and Curry the max as well as well as significant salaries for Thompson and Green would ensure that the Warriors continue paying the tax, and as they are a repeater team, their bill would be hefty.

Would another several years of hefty tax payments along with lost draft picks and youth be worth it to land Butler? That's a matter of debate. The Warriors ultimately appear committed to winning with Curry while they can. If that means sacrificing their future or their profit, they appear at least open to doing so. The last time Golden State added a star forward from another team, the Warriors won two championships. Perhaps they are hoping Butler can help them repeat history.

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