Grade the Trade: Knicks reunite Thibs with star, get Brunson help in new pitch

The New York Knicks lost a war of attrition in the NBA Playoffs. Can they make an offseason trade to reunite Thibodeau with a former star?
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau
New York Knicks, Tom Thibodeau / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages
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Laying out a Jimmy Butler trade

Jimmy Butler has been the epitome of a playoff performer over the past half-decade, leading the Miami Heat to the NBA Finals twice and the Eastern Conference Finals another year. While he conserves his energy during the regular season, Butler comes alive in the playoffs and propels his teams to another level.

Butler is also 34 years old, and the Miami Heat are considering whether or not to hand Butler a lucrative contract extension that would pay him max-level money up to his age-38 season. While the Heat have made some impressive runs in the playoffs, their team quality is not that of a contender anymore, and retooling around the 26-year-old Bam Adebayo makes a lot of sense for the Heat.

Trading for Jimmy Butler is easier than it sounds, of course, as the New York Knicks need to match his $48.7 million salary. That essentially requires Julius Randle to be a part of the deal, a bittersweet end to the tenure of a player who helped to get the Knicks to this point.

Here is what the rest of the deal would look like:

Butler to Knicks, Randle to Heat

The Miami Heat have the ability to choose their path forward after this deal. They can start Randle at the 4 and slot in Miles McBride and Mitchell Robinson onto their bench and compete next season. They can also look to flip Randle and Robinson and other veteran players and add more young players and draft capital to build around a core of Adebayo, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Tyler Herro and McBride.

Butler is aging, coming off of an injury and about to get expensive, so while he's a Top-15 player in the NBA he also doesn't command the highest of returns. This return for the Heat does give them a couple of extra draft picks to replenish the roster or to flip for other help, and it's a whole lot more than they would get letting Butler play one more season and walk next summer.

What about the Knicks? Does this deal make sense for Leon Rose and company to say yes?