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Jimmy Butler likes Instagram comment saying ‘Jimmy to Spurs’

Jimmy Butler, like Kawhi Leonard, is going to be a free agent after the 2018-19 season. But unlike Leonard, there has been very little buzz about the Minnesota Timberwolves moving him now in order to recoup some value. Butler has played in Minnesota for only a year, and despite reports that he was unhappy with the team's culture and that he would be interested in playing with Kyrie Irving in the future, the general expectation has always been that he will play out the season in Minnesota and that if the Timberwolves have a good season, he will consider returning.



But now, the Timberwolves should probably get a little nervous. Bleacher Report's eagle-eyed NBA account caught Butler making a somewhat concerning choice on Instagram for fans in Minnesota who want Butler to stick around long-term.

Butler liked a comment on Instagram suggesting that he play for the Spurs. For a Spurs team that is struggling to hold onto a superstar at the moment, this has to be somewhat encouraging as it relates to the state of the franchise. Leonard may not want to play in San Antonio, but someone does.

The mechanics of getting Butler to the Spurs would be more complicated. The Spurs don't hold any significant trade assets, and even if they did, Minnesota wants to try to contend next season. They would have to try to sign him as a free agent, but their cap sheet makes that difficult. With Davis Bertans signing a two-year, $14.5 million pact that as of yet has not been reported to come with any team options or non-guarantees, the Spurs are slated to have around $74 million committed in salary for the 2018-19 season. Under a projected $108 million cap, that would put them in position to make a max offer, but there is one other factor: Leonard. Butler probably wouldn't want to join the Spurs if he wasn't there, and his cap hold is approximately $31 million. That means that the Spurs are really hovering around $105 million in salary even after letting Danny Green go for nothing.

They have ways of creating more of space. Pau Gasol is guaranteed only $6.7 million, so cutting him against a $16 million salary would save $9.3 million. They could probably trade Patty Mills and his $13.3 million cap figure with a pick attached as well. That would put them in the ballpark. From there, if the either managed to find a trade for Gasol instead of cutting him or could move Marco Bellineli, they would be in position to make Butler a true max offer with Leonard, LaMarcus AldridgeDeJounte Murray, David Bertans and Lonnie Walker IV still on the team. Not too shabby.

But that involves Leonard deciding to stay, which still feels somewhat unlikely. Convincing Butler to join a Spurs team without Leonard would be very difficult. But there is finally some light at the end of this tunnel for San Antonio. If they can change Leonard's mind, Butler seems willing to consider them as his choice next summer.

By Robert D. Cooke, ago
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