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Lowe: No Workable Butler Trade for Blazers Except McCollum

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The Trail Blazers would probably love to add Jimmy Butler to the roster, but it’ll cost them a star guard.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Minnesota Timberwolves Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves are on the outs after the All-Star wing requested a trade from the franchise earlier this week. Earlier today reports emerged that Minnesota wasn’t listening to offers, but that hasn’t stopped Zach Lowe of ESPN from examining the situation top to bottom, asking what NBA franchises would need to offer in order to pry Butler from the ‘Wolves.

Lowe pays the most attention to Butler’s preferred trade destinations: the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Clippers. But he also spends time with more than a dozen other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers. Of Portland, Lowe says:

A few folks have floated the notion of Portland trading CJ McCollum for Butler and filler. I don’t mind it, even if there’s next-to-zero chance Butler would give any assurances about staying in Portland. It almost works like the Kawhi Leonard trade in Toronto: If Butler bolts, you trade Damian Lillard and rebuild.

Portland’s track record suggests they would like to add Butler to the Lillard/McCollum duo for one all-in run, but no such deal appears to exist.

Lowe also drops these nuggets:

Minnesota is only about $1.5 million below the luxury tax. They will not want to go so far over it by taking on salary in a trade that getting back under becomes too challenging.

The Wolves would like to dump Gorgui Dieng in any Butler deal, league sources say. Dieng is a backup set to earn $48 million over the next three seasons. Good luck, and thanks to the summer of 2016! Swallowing Dieng will be a non-starter for almost everyone, even if a few suitors could do so while still maintaining one max-level cap slot for this summer. (Minnesota could in theory find a third team to take Dieng, but things get tricky as more teams enter a deal.)

McCollum is set to make $25.8 million this season. Butler and Dieng combine for $35.6 million.