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The Minnesota Timberwolves are extra determined to include center Gorgui Dieng’s contract in a trade centered on star swingman Jimmy Butler, according to a report from Kelly Iko of The Athletic.
Dieng signed a four-year, $64 million extension in October 2016, and the Wolves apparently are making him a must for any opposing team wanting to acquire Butler. “Hell-bent” is the way Ilko phrased it.
The Houston Rockets and Miami Heat are said to be the strongest suitor in Butler talks, with Shams Charania of The Athletic reporting the Rockets offered a package of Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and four first-round draft picks.
Wolves president/coach Tom Thibodeau rejected the offer, per Charania, since draft picks are uncertainties and neither Knight nor Chriss would likely crack the team’s rotation. A package centered on Rockets guard Eric Gordon and/or wing P.J. Tucker is more likely to interest Thibodeau, Charania reported.
“A few weeks ago Houston called up to six teams, looking for a third partner to facilitate a deal in some fashion,” Iko wrote. “However, nothing materialized and negotiations went back to square one. The whole premise of looking for outside help is moving Dieng’s contract, but Minnesota receiving a number of future firsts gives it the flexibility owner Glenn Taylor needs moving forward. Attaching a pick or two to Dieng’s salary makes it easier to move, and can also be utilized in future roster-building.”
Butler requested a trade about six weeks ago, but according to multiple reports, no deal appears imminent. He continues to perform at an All-Star level, though some of his antics in practice and on the bench have come under question.