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Rockets ramp up efforts to trade for Jimmy Butler, reports say

Jimmy Butler dribbles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the fourth quarter of the game on October 19, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Cavaliers 131-123.
Jimmy Butler dribbles the ball against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the fourth quarter of the game on October 19, 2018 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Timberwolves defeated the Cavaliers 131-123. (2018 Getty Images)

HOUSTON – After starting the season with three losses in their first four games and dealing with a suspension to Chris Paul and multiple injuries up and down the roster, the Rockets appear to be re-engaging with the Minnesota Timberwolves in their pursuit of guard Jimmy Butler.

According to an ESPN report, the Rockets have offered four first-round picks as part of a deal to land the disgruntled Tomball native.

Other players would assuredly be involved in the deal.

Presumably, Eric Gordon, Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight are a few of the players who could make up a workable deal.

Butler expressed a strong desire to be traded during the late stages of the offseason, and while the ongoing situation with the Wolves seems untenable, he has played very well in the four games he’s appeared in this season for Minnesota. The team is just 2-3 overall, losing one game he sat out for rest.

He’s averaging 24.8 points per game on remarkably good shooting, 53.3 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent from behind the 3-point line.

Butler is also a four-time All-Star and has made the All-Defensive team four times. He was named third team All-NBA in each of the last two seasons.

For the Rockets to include a package with four first-round picks, they’d have to be spread out over a seven-year period, as teams are prohibited from trading their first-round picks in consecutive seasons.

Houston is currently dealing with injuries to two starters, both with hamstring injuries. James Harden, the reigning MVP, suffered a Grade 1 hamstring strain and will miss the next two games. James Ennis suffered a Grade 2 hamstring strain and, after missing the next two games, he’ll be re-evaluated.

Chriss, Knight, Nene Hilario and Zhou Qi are also still dealing with injuries. Chriss is the only one among them who could return sometime soon.