Report: Rockets dive back into Jimmy Butler trade talks by offering every first-rounder they legally can

The Houston Rockets breathed new life into the Jimmy Butler trade saga Thursday by offering a staggering amount of draft picks to the Minnesota Timberwolves, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Just how staggering was the offer? The Rockets have reportedly put four first-round draft picks on the table.

Rockets’ Jimmy Butler offer stretches the bounds of NBA draft rules

It appears the Rockets would very much like to bring in Jimmy Butler. So much that they are offering literally every first-round pick they’re allowed to send in a trade by the NBA, thanks to draft rules. Teams are not allowed to trade first-round picks in consecutive years and can’t trade out a pick farther than seven seasons.

So according to the rules, this offer would likely be the Rockets’ first-round picks in 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025. Per Wojnarowski, the picks would come with limited protection.

However, rules when it comes to protecting picks in this situation are tricky. According to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, picks cannot be protected when a bundle of them are traded for alternating years, unless the protection does not allow the pick to roll over to the next season. So if the Rockets’ pick were to somehow end up in the lottery and their pick fell inside the protected area, there would be few possibilities for the Timberwolves to recoup value for that pick.

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Jimmy Butler through his career
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Jimmy Butler through his career
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JUNE 29: Tom Thibobeau introduces Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves to the public during a press conference at the Mall of America on June 29, 2017 in Bloomington, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 27: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free throw against the Miami Heat on January 27, 2017 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12: Jimmy Butler #33 of the Marquette Golden Eagles takes a foul shot during a quarterfinal Big East Conferance Tournament college basketball game against the Villanova Wildcats at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2009 in New York, New York. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
Marquette University's Jimmy Butler reaches out for a loose ball during the first half of their second round NCAA basketball game against Xavier University in Cleveland, March 18, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
DEERFIELD, IL - DECEMBER 11: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls poses for a portrait during 2011 NBA Media Day on December 11, 2011 at the Berto Center in Deerfield, IL. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2011 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Dallas Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo (32) fouls Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Chicago, Illinois, November 28, 2012. REUTERS/Jeff Haynes (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Chicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler (top) falls over Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo as they compete for the ball in the second half of their NBA basketball game at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) is guarded by Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler (21) in the second half during Game 1 of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Miami, Florida May 6, 2013. REUTERS/Joe Skipper (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)
Dec 19, 2013; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler (21) shoots the ball while defended by Oklahoma City Thunder shooting guard Jeremy Lamb (11) during the second quarter at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 30, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler (21) shoots the ball past Brooklyn Nets small forward Joe Johnson (7) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 12, 2016; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) takes a shot against Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson (31) in the third quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 12, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Eastern Conference guard Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls (21) is interviewed during media day for the 2016 NBA All Star Game at Sheraton Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports
May 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Preliminary - Men's Preliminary Round Group A USA v Serbia - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 12/08/2016. Jimmy Butler (USA) of the USA before the game. REUTERS/Marko Djurica FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
2016 Rio Olympics - Basketball - Final - Men's Victory Ceremony - Carioca Arena 1 - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 21/8/2016. Harrison Barnes (USA) of the USA takes a selfie with Jimmy Butler (USA) of the USA, Kevin Durant (USA) of the USA and Draymond Green (USA) of the USA. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
Nov 7, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) and guard Rajon Rondo (9) celebrate during the second half of the game against the Orlando Magic at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2016; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler (21) dunks the ball on a pass from guard Dwyane Wade (not pictured) against the Detroit Pistons in the first half at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JUNE 29: Tom Thibobeau introduces Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves to the public during a press conference at the Mall of America on June 29, 2017 in Bloomington, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, MN - JUNE 29: Tom Thibobeau introduces Jimmy Butler of the Minnesota Timberwolves to the public during a press conference at the Mall of America on June 29, 2017 in Bloomington, Minnesota. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 25: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves handles the ball against the Houston Rockets in Game Five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2018 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 25: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves reacts in the first half during Game Five of the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center on April 25, 2018 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 23: Chris Paul #3 of the Houston Rockets drives to the basket against Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 23, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Rockets defeated the Timberwolves 119-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler speaks with members of the media during a news conference at the NBA basketball team's practice facility in Camden, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Why the Rockets would want Jimmy Butler

The Rockets likely wouldn’t make such an aggressive offer unless Butler agrees to sign an extension with the team beforehand. Butler is a free agent after this season, and the Rockets likely aren’t going to mortgage their future for one year of team control for an elite player.

The other major factors working against the Rockets are time and money, as they might not have enough of either to make the trade work.

 

If Butler does indeed head to Houston, the Rockets would get yet another elite player to help their effort to break the Golden State Warriors’ stranglehold on the Western Conference. The team came close last season in the conference finals, only to lose Chris Paul in Game 5 and blow a 3-2 lead.

Houston brought back most of that team from last year, but lost an important player at the wing in Trevor Ariza and depth like Luc Mbah a Moute. They did bring in Carmelo Anthony, but Butler would obviously a massive improvement over any of those players.

Would the Timberwolves really do this?

The NBA hasn’t seen a deal with a litany of draft picks like this since the Brooklyn Nets’ infamous Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade, but it’s very unlikely the Rockets’ offer would benefit Minnesota like the Nets deal, which allowed the Celtics to construct one of the most robust rosters in the game today

With Butler on board, it is unlikely that the Rockets will fall apart to the degree of the Nets. It’s also unlikely the team doesn’t insist on protection for the draft’s top selections, like the picks that netted Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum for the Celtics.

Limitations like that on a massive draft pick haul would be reason for the Timberwolves to look elsewhere, especially as Tom Thibodeau tries to construct a winner in the Twin Cities while he still has his job there.

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