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The Jimmy Butler Trade

It’s about time. All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler has finally been traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the timing and choice of team are a little odd. For those unaware, it was reported this morning that Minnesota is sending Butler and center Justin Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round pick.

So let’s start with the obvious: who won the trade? Well, as of right now I’d say no one. The key part of this deal (similar to the Paul George deal two years ago) is whether or not Philly can convince Butler to resign at the season’s end. They haven’t been listed as a prominent suitor for Butler but this trade obviously signifies their aggressiveness towards locking him up long-term this offseason.

Should Butler choose to resign for, let’s say four years, then this trade becomes a win for the Sixers. Covington is a great three and D player and Saric played harder than anyone, but with Butler Philadelphia gets all that in one player. They also swap out two young, relatively untested guys for one with a little more grey on his beard who has battled throughout his whole career and has Playoff experience. This move would seemingly give the 76ers the final star piece to their roster puzzle, pushing them over the top and into Finals contention. And we know how Butler can get to the youths…

On Minnesota’s side of things, this trade almost basically kind of went as well as it could. There was no chance of Butler resigning and he created a huge rift with both the team’s management and its two young budding stars, Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns. The Wolves looked as lost as last year and clearly their Big Three experiment had failed. With Covington and Saric riding into town, the Wolves can reshape their roster to fit more around their new Core Four of Wiggins, Towns, Covington and Saric: young, long, athletic and offensive. They may not have much defense but if they can lower the overall team age while building an identity, they can find more success than the Butler Era in the coming years.

Patton and the second-rounder seemed like unnecessary throw ins that probably won’t matter in the long term, so I’m going to discount their value. But as far as looking at an overall scale, this trade becomes a potential franchise-alterer for Philly if Butler resigns and a rebirth for the Timberwolves with a influx of talented youth. Who knows, maybe Butler can convince Harper to sign with the Phillies...

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