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Butler trade should make Philadelphia and Minnesota much better

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Jimmy Butler, as first reported by Shams Charania, is heading to the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second round pick are heading to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal, with Justin Patton going to Philadelphia with Butler.

Minnesota have struggled mightily this season with an unhappy Butler. Tom Thibodeau finally realised it was not going to work with Butler on the team and struck this deal with the Sixers that adds good defence from Saric and Covington. The Wolves recently went 0-5 on a west coast road trip, it was clear they needed to deal with the Butler situation before it ruined their whole season.

Good for T-Wolves

Given their current plight, it looks a good deal for Thibodeau. Butler’s desire for a big payday next offseason might have put some teams off given his age and injury record. Thibodeau needs pieces that can help him now – Saric and Covington certainly fit that bill.

Covington was first team All-NBA defence last year, while Saric is an effective stretch four. Neither are, and neither will be, Butler, but they are solid complementary pieces in a team that should already have its two stars as well as a resurgent Derrick Rose.


Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins had their differences with Butler. His departure can only be a positive for team spirit, and hopefully puts an end to the tension in the Minnesota locker room.

Philly’s side

Philadelphia are expected to come to an agreement to pay Butler the monster contract he wants come next offseason, as reported by Adrian Wojnarowski.

This gives Brett Brown a ‘Big Three’ and finally fills that hole alongside Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Philadelphia pushed for a big free agent in the offseason (and still had cap space for the 2019 class). Butler might not be the perfect fit, but he is the calibre of player they have been after to join their two stars.

Losing Covington and Saric is a big price to pay. They do, though, avoid a dilemma with Saric’s contract that was coming in the next year or so. Covington’s defence and, albeit streaky, shooting will be missed.

Brown is left with a gap in his starting line-up and it’s hard to see Butler helping the already low-on-confidence Markelle Fultz. The upside to losing Covington and Saric’s salaries, however, is that it gives Philly a lot of cap room for this free agent class. They would have to move Fultz to have enough for another max slot, though.


This should be fun

Philadelphia got their star. They have three All-Stars in a competitive but relatively weak East. Adding Butler makes them contenders.

The lack of shooting is still a grave concern, but they will likely address that later in the year with deals like they made for Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli last season.

Minnesota were backed into a corner with Butler. Thibodeau has got a solid haul for a player that wanted out and could walk for free in a few months. Their future depends on the development of Towns and Wiggins, but they have serious depth around them now.

The Timberwolves still have a playoff calibre roster and can finally move on from the troubled final months of Butler’s time with the team.

This trade makes Philly and Minnesota very watchable for the rest of the year. Both should improve, and we will get a better idea of how to judge this trade by summer.