Rockets offer four first-round picks for Wolves’ Butler

The Rockets apparently are trying to find a way to pair James Harden, left, with Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler.

The Houston Rockets are making what appears to be their strongest bid yet to acquire available Minnesota Timberwolves star swingman Jimmy Butler, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Per the report, the Rockets have included four future first-round draft picks in their offer for Butler, who requested a trade more than a month ago.

“The Rockets’ offer constitutes the maximum number of first-round picks allowable in a deal, factoring in league rules that necessitate no first-rounders can be conveyed in successive years, and no pick can be traded farther out than seven seasons,” Wojnarowski reported. “The lottery protections on picks in this proposed deal would be limited.”

Interestingly, the Rockets weren’t on Butler’s reported list of preferred destinations initially. He supposedly prefers the Miami Heat above all others, with the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers also in the mix.

Butler can become a free agent at the end of the season, having turned down a contract extension from the Timberwolves over the summer.

But the Rockets seem to think a winning season alongside the likes of All-Stars James Harden and Chris Paul could convince Butler to stay. Previous reports had the Timberwolves asking for guard Eric Gordon and forward P.J. Tucker, as well as picks, in trade talks with the Rockets.

Reports also suggested that the Timberwolves were hesitant to trade Butler to the Rockets since they both compete in the Western Conference. That apparently was especially the case with ultra-competitive president/coach Tom Thibodeau, who has tried to convince Butler to reconsider his trade request on multiple occasions.

However, Thibodeau has reportedly been removed from the discussions, as Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor told the Minneapolis Star Tribune he has asked Thibodeau to focus on his coaching duties.

Taylor and Wolves general manager Scott Layden are handling the trade talks.

Butler, 29, is averaging 24.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.8 steals in four appearances this season.

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