Welcome to the Thursday edition of The Cooler, where the long play leads to the upper hand. Let’s get to it:
*As we breeze into Week 3 of Jimmy Butler Trade Watch, there is an appearance of progress even without a resolution. Miami looks to be the clear favorite in the process, though Houston is still mentioned.
The Wolves are reportedly asking the Heat for Josh Richardson and Bam Adebayo — a pair of promising but nowhere near Butler-level young players — as well as a protected first-round pick and the ability to offload Gorgui Dieng’s contract. I don’t know if they’ll get all of that, but if they can get three of the four I’d take it (as long as one of them was Richardson).
Until a deal is done, though, the specifics don’t matter much.
What does matter — and what is most striking at the moment — is how the most recent wave of national reporting, led by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, is packed with both sides desperately clawing for leverage — almost like they’re passing notes back and forth to each other through an intermediary.
From the Miami side, you have the start of Woj’s piece, in which he says the Heat is pushing the Wolves to accept a revised trade offer. The Heat’s biggest piece of leverage is time. It’s hard to imagine the Wolves actually want this to extend much longer, considering the regular season starts in less than two weeks and their only Target Center preseason game is Friday and has the potential to be an uncomfortable environment. I’m trying to imagine Butler donning a Wolves uniform and taking the court, and all I’m hearing are boos.
From the Minnesota side, the attempt at leverage is two-fold: trying to convince teams that they’ll hold onto Butler if they don’t get a deal they really like (a dubious proposition given how uncomfortable it would make things) and engaging primarily with Miami and Houston, two cap-strapped teams that would need to get Butler before he hits free agency next summer to have any chance of re-signing him via his Bird Rights (a real bit of leverage, particularly with Miami).
Both sides have some leverage, so assuming Miami genuinely wants Butler — and its hard to imagine the Heat would have come this far if that wasn’t the case — the ingredients feel right for something to happen.
*Wild beat writer Sarah McLellan had a very good piece on the veteran core of the Wild and how this is essentially their last chance to go beyond just making the playoffs before a major shakeup takes place.
Indeed, recent history in local sports tells us Year 2 is often the time to look for major moves. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine didn’t do much in their first offseason at the helm of the Twins, nor did Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden make many moves in their first year. Both executive duos were far more aggressive in Year 2 after spending a full year to evaluate the organizations, and Paul Fenton could be on the same trajectory.
*ESPN has an interesting piece on the history of “bullpenning,” which suggests that maybe the modern trend isn’t as newfangled as we might have thought.
*Has it really been 14 years since the Yankees and Red Sox met in the postseason? It has. That all changes in the ALDS starting Friday.