The four-time All-Star apparently wants to play for either the Los Angeles Clippers, the New York Knicks, or the Brooklyn Nets. We're ranking his preferred landing spots below based on what would be the best situation for Butler (who's set to hit free agency in 2020), with a quick look at what each team could offer to get him.
General manager Sean Marks reshaped the franchise by quietly acquiring above-average talent in D'Angelo Russell, Spencer Dinwiddie, and DeMarre Carroll while clearing cap space in time for a loaded 2019 free-agency class. Butler's willingness to join Brooklyn is terrific news for an organization that's won 40 or more games just twice in the last 11 seasons.
While the changing of the guard in Brooklyn has been mostly positive, no player on the roster is capable of helping Butler take the next step. However, acquiring him doesn't have to be a short-term move - the Nets could have up to $65 million in cap space next summer, enough for two max players, and Kyrie Irving is rumored to be interested in joining forces with Butler. The Nets will also have their own draft pick for the first time since 2014.
But Russell, 22, is arguably Brooklyn's best trade asset. That won't be enough for the Timberwolves. And if the Nets somehow envision having both players, it's hard to imagine Butler wants to team up with Russell after struggling to coexist with immature young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota.
New York is once again an attractive free-agent destination. The Knicks drafted a solid young core of Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, and Mitchell Robinson, and added recent lottery picks Emmanuel Mudiay and Mario Hezonja. Most importantly, they have Kristaps Porzingis to play the 1A role beside Butler's 1B - something the Nets can't offer.
Unfortunately, Porzingis suffered a season-ending ACL tear in February that will sideline him for the majority (if not all) of the 2018-19 season. It doesn't help that Butler's cap hold would limit the Knicks from signing an additional star next summer. They should have between $33 million and $40 million in cap space, roughly speaking, depending on the inevitable waive and stretch of Joakim Noah.
The Knicks can dangle some combination of Tim Hardaway Jr., Courtney Lee, one of their young draftees, and a pick or two - and possibly offer to take on the three years and $48.7 million remaining on Gorgui Dieng's deal.
Apparently, everyone wants to be around the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. With LeBron James taking over the Lakers, Butler's reportedly determined to join Los Angeles' other team. And despite being in the deep Western Conference, the Clippers are built to compete now, with a healthy mix of savvy veterans in Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams and young talent in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson.
The Clippers also have a proven championship-caliber coach in Doc Rivers and an unheralded complementary star in Tobias Harris. It definitely doesn't hurt that they've reportedly emerged as the favorites to sign Kawhi Leonard.
If L.A. can package Williams with two or three expiring deals and Minnesota begins to feel the pressure, the Clippers may be able to pull off a trade. (It'll also help if the Clippers can somehow escape the two years and $44 million left on Danilo Gallinari's contract to ensure they'll have enough cap space for two max deals next summer.)