Kings trading for aging All-Star could vault them to contention, but at what cost?

A proposed trade would send the Kings Jimmy Butler, who could get them further, but would his age make it all worth it?
Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings - Play-In Tournament
Golden State Warriors v Sacramento Kings - Play-In Tournament / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

The Sacramento Kings have the assets to add another star without sacrificing their best players. However, they need to be careful which star they choose.

Earlier, Brandon Ingram came up as an option. He's in his prime right now, and it's not hard to see why he would fit. The one red flag that comes with him is that he's injury-prone and doesn't have a lot of team success to his name.

That doesn't mean Ingram wouldn't be worth looking into if he becomes available. However, if something better becomes an option, the Kings may prefer over Ingram. Enter Jimmy Butler.

Butler and the Miami Heat are at a crossroads right now. Since joining Miami in 2019, it's safe to say that they've overachieved with him leading the way. They've made two surprise runs to the NBA Finals along with three Eastern Conference Finals trips. Other factors were at play, but anyone who says Butler didn't lead them there is either an irrational hater or they weren't watching.

But here's the problem. The Heat are coming off a bad season, Butler will be 35 when next season starts, and he's in line for a new contract. As good as he's been, the Heat have to wonder if his production is worth paying him top dollar when he'll approach the wrong side of 30.

The Miami Herald's Anthony Chiang reported that Butler would like to retire with the Heat. However, he also added that his loyalty comes with a price. In other words, they'll have to pay a hefty sum to keep him. If the Heat decide it's not worth it, the Kings could swoop in.

Proposed trade sends Jimmy Butler to the Sacramento Kings

Bleacher Report's Zach Buckley proposed the following trade that would certainly shake up the Kings roster.

Harrison Barnes, Kevin Huerter, Davion Mitchell, the No. 13 pick, first-round pick in 2028 and first-round pick in 2030 to the Miami Heat for Jimmy Butler.

Buckley explained how Butler would fit in with the Kings' core.

"He isn't quite a perfect schematic fit in Sacramento, as he's a low-volume, low-efficiency three-point shooter. Still, the Kings could use his tenacity as a tone-setter, not to mention his big-stage savvy, defensive versatility, and secondary scoring and shot-creation."

He also explained that it might take more for them to get their hands on Butler.

"It would take an aggressive offer to pry him out of Miami, but this might qualify, especially if there are fans of Huerter and Mitchell in the Heat front office. This would give the Heat the Nos. 13 and 15 picks, meaning they could beef up their youth in a hurry or have the flexibility to chase a star trade or even move up the board.

"They might still need a pick swap or two to seriously consider this, but that's a concession the Kings could make if their initial offer can't get it done."

Buckley's explanation confronts one of two hard truths about Butler. Even if the Heat were willing to get rid of him, they're not going to do that just for the sake of getting rid of him. He's given the highest reward they've seen from a free agent addition since LeBron James.

Trading him knowing his reputation isn't that simple, even if he's getting up there in age. That is why it's difficult to see a trade like this come to fruition. The other hard truth about Butler is that knowing his age, what his impact on the Kings would be.

On paper, it would be worth trying, especially if Buckley's trade is the price Butler would come at. The real pressing issue is how much would he raise their ceiling and for how long. The Kings have the scoring personnel so that they wouldn't have to count on him to get them through the grind. At his age, acquiring Butler optimistically opens a title window, but said window wouldn't be for too long.

It's the influence that Butler brings that has made him a playoff terror in the past. He may not possess the talent that Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum do, but because of how smart he is as a halfcourt scorer, Butler's still managed to beat them multiple times anyway.

He also suffered a badly-timed knee injury that played a role in the Heat's season ending prematurely. Such injury may have let Miami know that he can't do this forever. It also could serve as a warning to Sacramento that it won't be long before his time is up. Butler could get the Kings to heights they haven't seen since the Chris Webber days, but that's not a foregone conclusion.

Butler is the more clear-cut option than Ingram because the former has proven himself a lot more on a bigger stage than the latter has. The risk with Butler is not so much about whether he is capable because he has shown that he certainly is. The risk is, how much longer he can do it.

A window is a window no matter how long or short it may be. The Kings being merely a playoff team will only have have so much luster. If the Kings believe that Butler can lead them to a lengthier playoff run, it's not the worst idea. Even if he doesn't get them to the promised land, he could serve as the next step to something special.

A Jimmy Butler trade is not a foolproof idea, but he could be what gets the Kings to be more than a playoff hopeful and definitely more than the NBA's doormat reputation that they've desperately tried to dispel.