The Minnesota Timberwolves finally traded away All-Star Jimmy Butler after months of trade talk and drama to the Philadelphia 76ers. Minnesota sent Butler and Justin Patton to the 76ers for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 2nd-round draft pick, according to Shams Charania and Adrian Wojnarowski. It is also been rumored by both reporters that Butler will re-sign with the 76ers with a long-term extension as long as he meshes well with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. This is a deal that sends shock-waves throughout the NBA, and it comes just hours after Minnesota lost to Sacramento to further their losing streak on the road. Butler has made it clear that he no longer wanted to be in Minnesota prior to the season, and this trade officially ends his stint there. Butler was traded to the Wolves last year on draft day along with Patton, in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen.
The 76ers were already a top team in this Eastern Conference, but this trade gives them even more starpower to a already loaded roster. Butler will surely take over at the Small Forward position to fill in Covington's void, and bench players such as Amir Johnson, Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala will fill the void left by Saric. I'm very surprised that Philadelphia did not have to part ways with Markelle Fultz, and while the loss of Covington and Saric will hurt, I believe they made out like bandits in this deal, as long as Butler re-signs. It wouldn't be a shock to me if the Sixers went and traded Fultz in exchange for a veteran Power Forward, players like Trevor Ariza and Nikola Vucevic could be potential targets for them. Here's a look at the projected rotation:
PG: Ben Simmons, Landry Shamet, T.J. McConnell
SG: J.J. Redick, Markelle Fultz, Furkan Korkmaz, Zhaire Smith (Injured)
SF: Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler
PF: Amir Johnson, Jonah Bolden
C: Joel Embiid, Mike Muscala
The Timberwolves, on the other hand, are now officially big losers of the draft night trade with Chicago a year ago. They essentially traded Dunn, LaVine and Markkanen for Covington, Saric and a 2nd, as I doubt Bayless will either be on the team or get minutes. While this does sting for Minnesota, I don't think they completely lost this trade. Robert Covington is an excellent defensive player in the middle of one of his best years yet, and is signed through the 2021-22 season at an affordable rate. Saric is another role player that will probably start over the aging Taj Gibson and is also signed through the 2020-21 season, so he will be with Minnesota for a while. He's someone who can spread the floor and gives the Timberwolves an all-around threat to add their core. Here's a look at their projected rotation after the deal:
PG: Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Tyus Jones
SG: Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie
SF: Robert Covington, Luol Deng, Keita Bates-Diop
PF: Dario Saric, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver
C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Gorgui Dieng
The Timberwolves may have finally gotten rid of the Butler drama and added more depth, but I still believe Philadelphia won this trade. They managed to get Butler and not have to part ways with any of their young players in Fultz, Simmons and Embiid, which is impressive, and if Butler does stay then this core will remain one of the top threats in the Eastern Conference along with Boston, Toronto, and others. I still believe Minnesota could make the playoffs, as Towns will be the go-to scorer once again and adding Covington and Saric should improve their defensive presence. This trade, however, makes Philadelphia scarier than ever, which should frighten the East and the NBA as a whole.