Jimmy Butler is a Sixer!

The Minnesota Timberwolves have finalized a deal that will send Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton to Sixers for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick.  Reports suggest both Butler and the Sixers are prepared to agree to a long-term deal this summer.  This trade dramatically changes the outlook for several teams and players around the league.  Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from this deal:

Winners

Jimmy Butler

Of course, Butler is the big winner.  Although the Timberwolves made the playoffs last year, it was clear that their ceiling was limited.  Butler will join a young Sixers roster that is right in the mix to compete for the Eastern Conference title.  He will bring much needed scoring on the wing and another playmaker in crunch time.  The Sixers have struggled to generate offense down the stretch and have blown several first-half leads.  The Sixers currently rank 12th in offensive rating in the first half, however an astounding 30th in offensive rating in the second half.  Butler should be able to create buckets for himself while distracting attention away from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.  Expect the Sixers offense to improve significantly with the addition of Jimmy Butler.

Tom Thibodeau

Thibs was very much on the hot seat going into this season, so he had very little incentive to trade Butler for future assets that won’t help the Wolves compete now.  This trade satisfies both his desire to remain relevant in the short term while setting up the T-Wolves for the future.  Covington and Saric should provide depth for Minnesota and both are signed to team-friendly deals for the foreseeable future.  All things considered, this was a great trade for Thibs.

Karl-Anthony Towns

The Timberwolves will turn back to Towns to become their face of their franchise again.  KAT is having the worst year of his career through the first 13 games, however he should be able to get back to form quickly without the weight of the Butler saga hanging over the team.  I expect Towns to be rejuvenated by this deal and come out strong during the rest of the season.

Losers

Andrew Wiggins

Andrew Wiggins is a star in theory, however not in actuality.  Unfortunately, he now has significant competition at the small forward position with the addition of Covington and Saric.  Coming into the league, Wiggins was billed as a sure-fire All-NBA defender.  However, that has not materialized while RoCo was named NBA All-Defensive First Team last year.  Covington and Saric seem like players built for Thibodeau’s system and are paid on the cheap for the next few seasons. Don’t be surprised to see the Timberwolves shop Wiggins before the season ends.

Celtics/Raptors/Bucks

Through the first few weeks of the season, it appeared there were two tiers at the top of the Eastern Conference.  The true contenders in Boston, Toronto and Milwaukee and then a team that was close but not quite there in Philly.  The Sixers immediately shoot into the conversation as one of the best teams in the East with this trade, which should concern the other contenders.  It will be interesting to see if any of these teams makes a move to put them ahead of the pack.  The Eastern Conference should be quite fun to watch for the remainder of the season.

Markelle Fultz

Although Fultz is not a real loser with this trade, his role on the team has gotten a lot murkier.  Butler should slide into Covington’s spot as the starting small forward.  It is unclear if this move will spell Fultz to the bench in favor of more shooting in the starting lineup.  My guess is this deal gives the Sixers the ability to put J.J. Redick back in the starting lineup and have Fultz run the second unit.  Given that the lineup needs to be reshuffled, the optics of this move will look more like they are incorporating Butler into the team and less of a demotion for Fultz.

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