BREAKING NEWS: JIMMY BUTLER TO PHILLY
After months of speculation following Jimmy Butler’s trade request from Minnesota, the star wing has finally been dealt. As first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski and quickly followed by Shams, Butler will join the 76ers, along with Justin Patton while Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second round pick will head to Minnesota.
Freed from his unhappy situation with the Wolves, Butler will be slotted in a core with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid for the rest of the season. The 76ers haven’t looked like the contenders to the Eastern Conference throne they hoped to be coming into the season, playing to an 8-5 record that could easily be worse if not for a few close wins. Neither Covington nor Saric was playing well for a Sixers offense that ranks 21st in the league in offensive rating, so Butler should be upgrade in Philly. If he can click with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, the Sixers could challenge for the Eastern Conference title, but this move does hurt their depth and puts a little more pressure on Markelle Fultz. Butler could easily tire of Embiid and Simmons careless turnovers and Fultz and Simmons jump shot aversions like he did the defensive struggles of Wiggins and Towns, making him somewhat of a flight risk still this offseason, although Woj is reporting mutual interest in a long-term deal.
For the Timberwolves, in the midst of a five-game losing streak they finally can finally move on from the locker room drama with a team that should remain competitive in the cutthroat west. A starting five of Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins, Covington, Saric and Karl Anthony Towns has offensive potential, but also will likely struggle immensely on defense. Saric is still on his rookie contract until 2020-21 and Covington is signed to a reasonable 4-year, 62 million dollar deal that runs through the 2021-2022 season, so it looks like Minnesota is committed to them and Towns and Wiggins as their core of the future, for better or worse. Whether the same stands for coach Tom Thibodeau remains to be seen, as his decision to go for a package that would keep the team competitive means his tenure could come to an end if this new roster doesn’t gel.