By Reid Urban
The Jimmy Butler era in Minnesota has finally ended.
The Timberwolves have agreed to send their star, along with Justin Patton, to the Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick. A trade call with the league to finalize the deal has been set for Monday.
For Sixers GM Elton Brand, this is his first major move since being named the GM a few months ago. This move will now allow the Sixers to have a third star on the team alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid without luring an impact player in the 2019 free agency period.
Mark Suleymanov of Hoops Rumors believes that this move could also take pressure off their 2017 first overall pick Markelle Fultz, as many had expected him to be the third star on that team. That has not worked out the way Philadelphia wanted it to yet.
Assuming that all goes well in Philadelphia, it could signal the way for both sides to reach an agreement on a long-term. In fact, it is believed Philadelphia wants to have the big three of Butler, Simmons, and Embiid around long-term. However, a major injury or poor play from Simmons and Embiid alongside Butler could diminish that possibility.
As for Minnesota, this trade ends the two-month saga of Butler asking for a trade request. This all started before training camps got underway before the season began, and this news of a trade request broke during a meeting between Butler and Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau. Although Butler didn’t initially report to camp, he eventually rejoined the team after the Wolves couldn’t find a trade partner right away. However, things took a somewhat sour turn with Butler’s expletive-filled rant in a preseason practice. Now, things have resolved themsleves, as Butler’s departure will give the team an opportunity to focus on a future centered around their young core in both Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
The Wolves will now add both Covington and Saric to their long-term plans. Saric won’t be a restricted free agency until 2020 and Covington is locked up through 2022. The team understandably didn’t want to take a step back in their roster-building process, having made the playoffs last season after a long absence out. As for Bayless, if the team can’t find a plan for him, he’ll be most likely bought out by the Wolves.
Looks like both teams got what they wanted in this deal. It gives Butler an opportunity to play with some stars and potentially become a long-term asset for the Sixers, while the Wolves get some players and a pick, in hopes that this trade will help them continue where they left off.