Jimmy Butler Trade Grades: 76ers establish themselves as elite contender; Wolves add solid pieces to young core
The Sixers added a third superstar to an already talented roster with this blockbuster deal
The NBA landscape was drastically changed on Saturday when the Philadelphia 76ers disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler. The deal has Butler and Justin Patton heading to Philadelphia in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a future second-round pick. The Sixers made it clear that they are looking to heavily pursue an NBA title with an acquisition of this magnitude.
Let's dive into this deal and see what each side is truly acquiring and how both teams fared.
Philadelphia receives: Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton
The Sixers entered the 2018-19 season as a team that many expected to be among the elite groups in the Eastern Conference. Prior to this deal, Philadelphia had been a mixed bag in the early portion of the season with just an 8-5 start, including losses to both the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors.
Now the Sixers have a third superstar to add to their talented core of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Philadelphia did swing for the fences over the summer by attempting to sign LeBron James while also exploring trade opportunities for Kawhi Leonard. However, nothing ever materialized and the only noteworthy move was re-signing sharpshooting guard JJ Redick for another season. Through the first 13 games of the season, one of the biggest issues for Philadelphia was its perimeter shooting. The Sixers are currently knocking down just 33.6 percent of their shots from three, and aside from Covington and rookie Landry Shamet, no player on the roster was shooting above 35 percent from deep.
Butler adds another offensive force that will be able to knock down big shots for the Sixers. The four-time All-Star enters Saturday shooting just under 38 percent from beyond the arc and has drilled at least four threes in three games this season. With a game-changing playmaker in Simmons running the point in Philadelphia, it's very possible that Butler could have even more opportunities for open looks.
It was definitely a large package to give up for a player who'll be a free agent this summer. However, if Butler elects to re-sign with the Sixers, this could be an absolute steal and even more so if Philadelphia makes a title run. Grade: A
Minnesota receives: Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, future second-round pick
The Timberwolves were reluctant to get a deal done involving Butler, but it appeared that it had become a toxic environment. Butler became recently frustrated with the heavy minutes that he was receiving and even voiced those frustrations following Friday's game against the Sacramento Kings. Minnesota had originally made a huge move to acquire Butler on draft night two years ago from the Chicago Bulls and had to part with the likes of Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn.
When it comes to the return, the Timberwolves obviously didn't get any star power coming their way from the Sixers. However, Robert Covington is a very effective "three-and-D" wing that has blossomed into one of the game's top on-ball defenders since arriving in the City of Brotherly Love. Covington also has been an above-average shooter in Philadelphia as he's connected on 35.9 percent of his shots from three during his five seasons with the franchise. On the other hand, Saric is another player that the Sixers have developed over the years after the team selected him in the first round back in 2014. The Croatian forward is very versatile and is capable of stepping out on the perimeter. Saric is a career 35 percent shooter from beyond the arc despite his struggles early on this season.
Minnesota obviously didn't want to surrender Butler, but their hand was almost forced. One of the biggest positives is that they were able to trade Butler out of the conference and won't have to contend with him down the road if the Timberwolves were a playoff team. Now the Timberwolves can slide Andrew Wiggins down to the two-guard spot with Covington coming to town. It'll be interesting to see if Saric comes off the bench for Minnesota, which was his role in Philadelphia early in his career. Grade: B
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