Jimmy Butler traded to Philadelphia 76ers, impact and recap

Butler Traded!

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe reported on Saturday that the struggling Minnesota Timberwolves agreed to a deal to send All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers are trading Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second round pick for Butler and Justin Patton.

Butler joins center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons in Philadelphia. The addition of Butler gives the 76ers an official “big three”. Wojnarowski also reported that Butler wants to sign a long-term agreement with the 76ers. Of course Butler can’t negotiate a new deal until he opts out of the final year of his current contract after this season finishes.

The 76ers will be able to offer Butler up to a five-year max contract worth $190 million. No other team will be able to offer Butler anything within $49 million dollars of that potential deal, meaning it would take something significant would have to happen to prevent Butler from pursuing that deal.

The Timberwolves, specifically head coach Tom Thibodeau who also serves as the team’s president, believed that it was best to move on from Butler. The team was on a five game skid when it was decided that Butler would be traded. The environment in the locker-room must have been tense and unfriendly considering the disagreements between the team’s star center Karl-Anthony Towns, high volume scorer Andrew Wiggins, and Butler.

Butler accused both Towns and Wiggins of being lazy and not wanting to win. He made it clear his feelings towards the team and organization when he reportedly beat the team’s starters with the third-string unit in practice and yelled things like “you can’t win without me”. Butler also requested a trade from the team a number of weeks ago, now he’s gotten his wish.

Butler is 29 years old and has made the last four All-Star games. During that stretch he has averaged over 20 points per game each season, was the NBA’s Most Improved Player (2014-15 season), made four All-Defensive second teams, and made two All-NBA third teams. Needless to say, he’s a top fifteen player in the NBA. Now he’s joining a team with the best center in the league and a 6-10 point guard.

The 76ers did trade away two of their five players who were averaging ten points per game (Covington and Saric), but I think Butler can match the production of those two. He can also match Covington’s defensive contributions. Some people may be worried about the loss of Covington’s three-point shooting, he was shooting 39% from range, but Butler is shooting 37.8% meaning there will be just a slight drop off in efficiency. And let’s not forget the team still have J.J. Redick. Admittedly he’s struggled with shooting threes this year, but he is averaging just over 17 points per game. Of course, any scoring issues resulting from the trade would be solved if Markelle Fultz just delivered on all the promise he still has as a 20 year old former number one overall pick.

As of the time of the trade, just after noon on November 10, the 76ers are third in the Eastern Conference at 8-5. The two teams ahead them are the Milwaukee Bucks, currently in second, and the conference leading Toronto Raptors. The Indiana Pacers also have an 8-5 record and the stacked Boston Celtics are fifth in the conference with a 7-5 record. Before the trade I thought the 76ers were the third best team in the East, behind the Celtics and Raptors and just ahead of the Bucks. But now those rankings might get shaken up a bit. It all depends on how Butler, Embiid, and Simmons mesh.

I can speculate about where the 76ers rank in the East all I want, but in the end, they’re just chasing the Golden State Warriors just like everybody else. And so modern NBA arms race continues.

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