By Griffin Finch
Going into the season we knew that Jimmy Butler was not happy in Minnesota and that it was becoming a problem in the locker room. We knew that he would be traded before the deadline, the only question was when. Sunday we got our answer. Jimmy Butler, along with Justin Patton, was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in return for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless and a second round draft pick.
It is usually a rule of thumb that the team that gets the best player in the trade is the team that wins the deal. However in this particular trade there is a case to be made that the Timberwolves improved the most in the deal. They turned Butler who had become a locker room distraction for everyone on the team but especially to Karl Anthony-Towns who was drafted number one overall, won rookie of the year and is the face of the franchise. This was a case of addition by subtraction for Minnesota. In return for their disgruntled star, the T-Wolves acquired a very talented young player in Dario Saric who for his career has averaged 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists. He is also only 24 years old with potential to greatly improve. They also received Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless. Covington is a prototypical 3 and D player who is very effective. Jerryd Bayless is a veteran who may be able to give the Wolves some valuable minutes off the bench. Overall this move seems like one made in heaven for the Timberwolves.
In the case of the Philadelphia 76ers this trade could go very well or very bad all depending on how well Jimmy Butler gets along with the other players and the coaching staff. Jimmy Butler is unmistakably a star in this game averaging 21 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists this season. If the chemistry works out the 76ers will be playing the Boston Celtics in the conference finals and they may even be favored in the series by the time May comes around. But if it doesn’t work out and Butler becomes a locker room issue as was the case in Chicago and now Minnesota, it could derail Philadelphia’s entire season. I see this move as the 76ers betting Saric, Bayless and Covington that Jimmy Butler will work out. By making this bet they assume all of the risk because Minnesota definitely improved, but despite the potential for greatness with adding an Allstar to the team, there is also a lot of room for this experiment to fail miserably.
This was the first truly exciting move made this season in a season that is sure to be full of teams making moves and adjustments in an attempt to gain some ground on the Warriors. Minnesota has done very well for themselves by removing a problem and getting young talent to go with their young stars. In a couple of years they will be contending for a championship at this rate. For Philly they made a move to win now. Only time will tell if it works out for them. When all is said and done, this will be the moment that makes or breaks the 76ers season.