Is Jimmy Butler a "dream trade target" for the Houston Rockets?

Could the Houston Rockets trade for Jimmy Butler this summer?
Could the Houston Rockets trade for Jimmy Butler this summer? / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

The Houston Rockets should not trade for an aging star this summer.

We're not going to beat around the bush here. That's because we're tired. It feels like every week, someone is urging the Rockets to cash their future in for an out-of-prime star player.

Bleacher Report is at it again. They just named Jimmy Butler as a dream trade target for the Rockets.

On our end, it feels more like a nightmare.

Houston Rockets in the mix for Butler?

"One of the most interesting teams to follow this summer, the Houston Rockets could stay the course with their young talent or go star hunting instead."

Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report

Fair enough. It's true that the Rockets are looking to win. What does Swartz propose that the Rockets could give up for Butler?

"An offer of Jabari Smith Jr., Amen Thompson, Dillon Brooks and the No. 3 overall pick for Butler should at least be worth having for both sides."

Greg Swartz, Bleacher Report


Butler had a Box Plus/Minus (BPM) of 4.6 last season. That was his lowest mark since a strange 2018-19 season that saw him traded from the Timberwolves to an ill-fitting 76ers team early in the season. Otherwise, it's his lowest mark since 2015-16.

Sure, Butler shot 41.4% from long-range last year. That was a career high by a large margin. It's concerning that his advanced stats took a hit in the same year that he started connecting from deep. In the (likely) event that Butler's shooting regresses to the mean in 2024-25, his impact is likely to reach career lows.

We're talking about a 34-year-old. Butler's best days are almost certainly behind him. Giving up this much of their young core for him would be an indefensible decision for the Rockets.

Houston Rockets cannot pay Butler's price

There seems to be a common misunderstanding that the Rockets have shifted their focus exclusively to the present.

Yes, the Rockets overpaid for impactful free agents last summer. They clearly want to improve. Signing free agents doesn't require a team to give up assets or young players.

The plan is to bolster the young core with quality veterans until the Rockets decide which of these young players are their building blocks. The Rockets surely haven't reached a decision on Thompson yet, and Smith Jr. has only played two professional seasons. Trading either - yet alone both, and the third overall pick - for an aging Jimmy Butler would be a radical misstep.

So, consider this a PSA: please stop including the young Rockets in trade proposals for aging stars. Unless we're talking about top-10 superstars, the organization isn't likely to be interested.

Rival GMs might as well keep dreaming.