Western Courier

Jimmy Butler completes “The Process”

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

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The ongoing drama of Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves is over. He has been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers.

The official deal sends Butler and Justin Patton to Philly while receiving Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jared Bayliss, and a 2022 second round pick. Was the deal worth it for either team?

The 76ers receive an all-NBA talent with Butler, a man that brought hope to Chicago after Derrick Rose fell to injury and showed the NBA, he can compete to be one of the best two-way players in the league.

In the last five seasons he has averaged over 20 points, five rebounds and two steals a game. The four-time all-star has two all-NBA team selections and four-time all-NBA defense selections. Will it be enough to jump the 76ers to the top of the East?

With a roster of one all-star and rookie of the year winner Ben Simmons it won’t be easy. There’s no question that Joel Embiid and Butler will be a force to be reckoned with, but the team still have problems to fix. Losing two starters won’t be easy to replace. At first glance the largest concern for the 76ers will be replacing Saric. The stretch forward will leave gaps on the defensive side of the ball.

The 76ers will have to move Simmons to the small forward position and rely on Markelle Fultz to play point. The second-year guard has failed to prove consistent efficiency on offense and still needs to improve. Perhaps they will move JJ Reddick or T.J. McConnel to the point and leave him on the bench, but this trade takes depth away from Philly. With a team that has three starters with injury history, they need depth for an 82-game grueling regular season.

They will need to avoid all injuries, which probably won’t happen, and form chemistry with their new lineup in a hurry to get to the top of the east. Currently sitting there is Toronto, Indiana, Boston and Milwaukee.

Both Milwaukee and Toronto have relied on their star players to jump out to this hot start. Meanwhile Boston and Indiana have used strong defensive play with young talent to play at an elite level.

Minnesota on the other hand, is left in a state of whirlwind. This entire escapade has spread light on issues in the front office, and turmoil amongst players and their effort. Barely making the playoffs last year, they will need a dramatic turn around to get there again. Relying on star center Karl Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins the T-Wolves will need them to ramp up the production.

Sitting second to last in defensive rating for the NBA and only 15 for offensive rating the Timberwolves will miss the playoffs. Saric and Covington will not produce more than Butler and will not make an immediate impact on the team, but time will tell if the change will result in a positive outcome for them.

Last time the T-Wolves made a splash in the trade market was the trading for Butler. They gave up Zach Lavine, currently averaging 27.1 points per game fifth in the NBA, Kris Dunn and rookie Lauri Markkanen. The stretch big man averaged 15.7 points per game, and seven rebounds as a rookie.

It’s safe to say the Bulls won that deal but did the T-Wolves just make another move they will end up regretting. Tom Thibodeau, head coach and president of basketball operations, is on the hot seat for this decision. If it fails, he is to blame, and Minnesota will look to change up the front office.

Now that this deal has gone through reports of what could’ve happened have surfaced. Deals with the Miami Heat went sour a long time ago in a package that would have included Josh Richardson who is off to a hot start this season. It has been rumored that Houston offered four future first round picks but that seems unlikely.

However, three teams were in serious conversation for Butler. First was the struggling Washington Wizards, who desperately need another star to get their team through the playoffs with John Wall and Bradley Beal. Another team was the New Orleans Pelicans who offered Nikola Mirotic, an un-protected first round pick. The final team was the Houston Rockets, with a deal that included Eric Gordon and two first round picks, and veteran center Nene.

Why Minnesota decided to accept a deal with no future first round draft picks is beyond me. Everyone knows the best way to rebuild a team is through the draft and having some luck. Boston has done it with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and more. Even Philly has proven that “trust the process” works and is the best way to improve your team organically.

Even Minnesota has shown that they understand that plan. Drafting Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love even when they drafted Wiggins, and Towns they understood that they needed to rebuild their roster, and now when they don’t have the talent to make a long run in the playoffs, they trade Butler for two young players that have yet to show all-star talent. Why not take a chance on the draft and get some picks?

Thibodeau’s reasoning is beyond my comprehension and I hope they find success in the NBA, but I do not believe it will be with Covington and Saric. As Minnesota has failed to bring home a title in any of the major sports, fans are growing tired of losing season after losing season. They are looking for answers and the Timberwolves are not giving the fans the answers they deserve.

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Jimmy Butler completes “The Process”