With the 76ers taking a huge step forward last season and winning a playoff series, it was clear that it was time for them to try and add a marquee player to take their team and chances of making a really deep playoff run to the next level. They did just that when it was first broke by Shams Charania of The Athletic that the 76ers were going to make that happen by getting disgruntled Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler. The deal was then confirmed by the team.
⚡️ 76ers Acquire Four-Time All-Star Jimmy Butlerhttps://t.co/bRjXc0skHP
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) November 12, 2018
In the deal, the 76ers will also be getting big man Justin Patton and they’ll be sending Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick to Minnesota.
Patton has seen limited time in his young NBA career, but he is only 21-years old so he possibly could still develop into something, but the main piece of this deal is undoubtedly Jimmy Butler. Butler is a four-time all-star and he has really seen his game develop since the 2014-15 season, when he first averaged 20 points per game. He has developed into a number one scoring option and pairing him with a guy like Joel Embiid, who is playing at an MVP level so far this season, and with great point forward Ben Simmons, should make this offense really tough to stop because of the versatility. Now they did lose some shooting by dealing Saric and Covington, but the risk is worth the reward when you’re talking about adding a guy who can get a bucket when things bog down in a playoff game.
Butler has a player option for next season but he is likely going to turn that down so he can sign a long-term deal and it really wouldn’t be surprising if he were to sign a long-term deal soon. They also have J.J. Redick coming off the books, which will free up $12.25 million in cap space if they choose not to bring him back and they’ll also have Wilson Chandler coming off the books, which will free up $12.8 million. The team has already locked up Joel Embiid and with their cap situation after this season they’re looking at the possibility of being able to add another really good player to this core before they likely need to go over the cap to re-sign Ben Simmons. The 76ers definitely lose some depth in this deal, but they got a star player and the NBA is about having star players, so it’s well worth the risk in my opinion.
For Minnesota I don’t mind this deal because they had to get rid of Butler and I believe this is a better deal than just getting some draft picks, especially from a team like the Rockets that was reported earlier this season. They at least know what they’re getting with Saric and Covington. Now they are in a little bit of cap hell with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns already being locked up to their big extensions. Covington also signed a smaller, but still sizable extension at the start of last season with Philadelphia. They’re also staring a $19 million player option for next season with Jeff Teague, which Teague would be dumb not to pick up because he would not make that on the open market. The real kicker though is the contract of Gorgui Dieng. Dieng is locked up through 2020 and he will make about $15 million this season, $16.2 million next season and $17.2 million in his final year. Now they do at least have a chance to get Taj Gibson and his $14 million off the books at this seasons end, but other than that they are in a tough spot, especially when you add the fact that Dario Saric still has yet to get his extension.
Basketball-wise this isn’t a bad deal for the Timberwolves given the situation they were in because Saric and Covington add shooting to a team that needs it, and Covington has been a very good defender throughout his career, including an appearance on the all-defensive team last season. Saric is also a solid defender and he’ll give the team a good stretch forward to try and clear out more space for Karl-Anthony Towns. The Timberwolves have been terrible on defense this season so adding two good defenders should help.
The ceiling for the 76ers got raised with this deal and I love adding a veteran competitor to such a young team and for Minnesota, their success going forward will ultimately come down to Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns buying into what Tom Thibodeau is selling and being able to play harder on a more consistent basis.