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Shake Up In The East

Updated: Nov 13, 2018

It took 52 days, one explosive practice, excessive trade rumours, one broken deal and missed games due to “precautionary rest“... but Jimmy Butler got his wish. Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in a deal that included Justin Patton going to Philadelphia with him, and Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerrod Bayless and a 2022 second round pick being sent to Minnesota.

Minnesota had been shopping Butler on the trade market since he demanded to be traded in the latter part of training camp with the Timberwolves. Trade speculations included the Houston Rockets, and Miami Heat but the Rockets seemed to be the front-runners, offering a reported package of four future 1st round picks for Butler himself. The situation around Butler and the Timberwolves was a weird one that we haven’t seen in the NBA for a long time. Butler was calling out his teammates, specifically Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns, while complaining about playing too many minutes and introducing the phrase ”Precautionary rest“ to the NBA.

The initial reaction to the trade would be that the 76ers won the trade, getting the “best player “of the deal and a key piece to their potential finals run, while the Timberwolves were only receiving two good starters at best. The loss of Saric, Covington, and Bayless is a significant blow to the improving bench of the 76ers this season. It will be very hard to replace and will be missed this coming post season. However, the biggest factor for the 76ers is that Jimmy butler is set to become a free agent this summer. Philadelphia does have the advantage on resigning Butler this coming summer a maximum contract of 5 years, 190 million dollars, whereas another team bidding can only offer 4 years, 140 million dollars.

The real question from this trade is how this will affect the eastern conference, and if the 76ers are a contender. Many thought Philadelphia would need a 3rd star for them to make a convincing run to the eastern conference finals; and in Butler, they have that man. Philadelphia has been struggling to start this season off and that has raised concerns, considering the hype coming into this season. With this trade they gain a legitimate star, who is averaging 21.3 ppg , 5.2 rebounds per game and 4.3 assists per game this season. Not bad considering he was on a team that he didn't want to play for.

Butler is considered one of the better defensive players in the NBA, and will be a major asset in the playoffs for the 76ers when they need someone to guard the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Jason Tatum, or Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 76ers have been struggling this season with 3-point shooting. Only averaging 10.9 made 3’s this season, with Saric and Covington accounting for 3.9 of that total. Butler is averaging a career best 4.5 made 3’s this season and can hopefully keep this pace up.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, on the other hand, find themselves maintaining ground in the competitive western conference. Dario Saric Is a young talent that can grow into a very solid player, while Robert Covington is an improving 3-point specialist in todays NBA, where a specialist is well needed for a playoff run. Throw in Jerrod Bayless and a draft pick, and it looks like a nice takeaway. The biggest positive out of the trade for the T-wolves is of course getting rid of Butler. It was a very messy situation that ruined team chemistry, and restricted the growth of younger stars like Towns and Wiggins. Now that Butler is gone they have room to grow into their full potential, which is ultimately Minnesota’s key to future success.

With this trade the 76ers are gearing up for hopefully years of playoff runs, hopefully leading to some NBA finals appearences. The Eastern conference is the most competitive it has been in recent years, with the Raptors, Bucks, and Celtics all making a case for the number one seed and home court advantage. Add Philadelphia in to the mix and this will be a fun season watching these 4 teams battle it out.

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