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Brooklyn Nets right to want to keep picks, even with Jimmy Butler available

According to a report, the Brooklyn Nets are considered unlikely to be willing to move any of their first-round picks in a possible Jimmy Butler deal.

Even as Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor expressed his desire to get Jimmy Butler out of Minneapolis as soon as possible, the Brooklyn Nets are unlikely to be interested in moving any of their first-round picks in a potential deal for the four-time All-Star.

According to Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post, Brooklyn is not the team to approach if the Timberwolves and Taylor hope to get any future draft assets out of a Butler deal.

The Nets seem unlikely to move on from any picks … after they finally emerged from the hole they created by trading the rights to five straight first-round picks earlier this decade.

That is the lasting legacy of former general manager Billy King in Brooklyn, who dealt the Nets’ 2015 first-round pick to the Atlanta Hawks in a 2012 trade for Joe Johnson.

He later sent Brooklyn’s 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018 first-rounders (either outright or in swap options) to the Boston Celtics in the July 2013 deal for Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, D.J. White and five years (and counting) of agony.

The deals were part of a bold plan by King and owner Mikhail Prokhorov to make the Nets championship contenders upon their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn.

(Narrator: This ended badly for the Nets.)

It’s the right call. The Nets, under King, tried to take shortcuts to contention and failed miserably, resulting in 69 wins the last three seasons with no high lottery picks at the end of the darkly hued rainbow.

Those draft picks are what general manager Sean Marks came here to preserve and protect and they aren’t worth squandering on a star-but-not-a-superstar such as Butler.

The Post report came in conjunction with a report by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN that Taylor has countermanded instructions from team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau to general manager Scott Layton to not take any calls from teams inquiring about Butler.

Taylor was approached by multiple owners and executives late last week during the NBA’s board of governors meeting in New York, seeking direction on the Butler situation.

“The owner’s trading him,” one board of governors source said. “That was made clear. It’s just a matter of when.”

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Butler does not want to arrive for media day on Monday in Minneapolis and Taylor, already weary of the bad press surrounding the reported dysfunction on the club that involves rifts between Butler and fellow All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins.

Towns on Saturday agreed to terms on a five-year extension with the Timberwolves that could be worth up to $190 million if he reaches certain benchmarks this season.

This isn’t the first time Taylor has interjected himself into trade discussions in Minnesota, as the owner played active roles in the 2007 trade of franchise icon Garnett to the Celtics and the 2014 deal that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers and brought Wiggins as part of the return.

The surprise may be that Taylor’s getting directly involved in a trade not involving a player named Kevin.

According to “another high-ranking league official” cited by Wojnarowski:

“(Taylor) basically said, ‘If you don’t get anywhere with [Layden] and you’ve got something good, bring it to me.”

The Timberwolves in June 2017 acquired Butler from the Chicago Bulls and proceeded to reach the playoffs for the first time since they were in the Western Conference Finals in 2004, clinching the No. 8 seed on the final night of the season before getting bounced in the first round by the Houston Rockets.

Thibodeau would prefer to coach through the feuding and return to the playoffs, but Taylor doesn’t want to further damage the team’s image.

Taylor is said to want Butler dealt in the next several days.

Butler, who told the Timberwolves he plans to decline his 2019-20 option and enter free agency next summer, could be tough to move for that reason — many teams project to have cap space next July and might be reluctant to move assets for a guy they could sign outright.

The New York Knicks, another one of the three teams on Butler’s list of preferred destinations according to reports (along with the Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers), have said repeatedly they have no plans to trade future picks.

Butler is said to be most interested in the Clippers, who have expressed interest. But the Clippers don’t want to include rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a potential deal.

There are also reports of teams interested in Butler without the caveat that he remain with them on a five-year max extension.

Next: 10 best rookie seasons in Nets history

Butler cited the Clippers, Knicks and Nets as his choices because those teams project to be able to both give him the max deal — up to $190 million in total — as well as have cap space remaining to lure a second max player in free agency.

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