A super-max contract is an immense commitment. Such a salary establishes the notion that this player is capable of championship glory. In order for a player to be truly worthy of said contract, he must fulfill two categories: appropriate age and a premier skillset.
Today’s league is one where youth is considered a high commodity, and rightfully so! Devin Booker and Nikola Jokic are adequate examples of players deserving max deals. Booker being only 21 and Jokic 23, both fulfill the category of age as they are merely only entering their primes. The skillset they each bring to their respective teams is tremendously diverse, as it ranges from isolation to off-ball play. The Booker extension made sense because there is some guarantee on investment. In a league where the axis of power is constantly being challenged and reshaped, it is imperative to resign consistency over short term talent.
Hence Jimmy Butler, a 29 year old All-star with question marks written all over him. Will he mesh well with our team? Can we get a longterm commitment? Is he good enough to lead us deep into the Post Season? These are some questions which league executives must consider. At the end of the day some acknowledgment must go into why the ship sank in Minnesota. Was the Butler backlash warranted?
Some may argue yes, that Butler was put in a situation impossible to succeed in, however, unless the present situation is hostile it seems foolish to assume that none of blame must fall on Butler. Media outlets have scolded the Wolves for rushing too fast into contention, which in its on right receives merit, but the reason could also be that Butler’s tendencies do not reside well with teammates. Upon reviewing the Butler situation, a feeling of tension and aggression loomed over the Wolves locker-room for a majority of the year. Before Butler arrived in Minnesota, there was no history of name calling and harsh accusations. When watching the Wolves after the All-Star break, they did not look like a cohesive unit but rather a group of individuals trying to put up their own statistics. While Butler is responsible for the Wolves’ playoff birth, he does not have the character to patiently drive further success.
Regardless of opinion, Butler’s time in Minnesota was a major disappointment. A time which can be labeled as an eyesore on his unique, cinderella career thus far. He rose from being a bench player to a perennial All-Star. This transition is definitely noteworthy, however, Butler’s ego does not translate to championships. While he is a competitor, he is not good enough on his own to lead to success. As illustrated in Minnesota, Butler is at best a second or third option on a really talented team.
Executives need to consider whether or not Butler is worth giving up proven or potential assets. If his time in Minnesota reveals anything it is that he is not good enough to lead a team on his own and that he takes a major toll on the locker-room. Risks may not always yield rewards, especially rewards nearing the end of their prime.