Jimmy Butler traded to Philadelphia 76ers
After an acrimonious partnership, one that has been chock full of drama the past two months, Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves are rid of each other.
The Wolves on Saturday agreed to trade Butler and Justin Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers for Robert Convington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a second-round pick in 2022, a source confirmed to the Star Tribune.
The deal ends a two-month saga that began with Butler making a trade request of coach and team President Tom Thibodeau in Los Angeles before training camp began.
After that, Thibodeau was reluctant to make a deal despite getting close to the finish line with the Heat on a package that revolved around talented young guard Josh Richardson in early October.
But after the team ended its recent west-coast road trip 0-5 Thibodeau read the temperature of a frustrated and fraying locker room after Fridays 121-110 loss to Sacramento.
Weve got to change it, Thibodeau said. We go home [Monday] and we have to get right, so we have two days to get ready and we have to change.
Thibodeau finally made the big change he was reluctant to make. The 76ers will now retain Butlers Bird Rights and can sign him to a five-year deal worth up to $190 million should Butler opt out of his current deal this summer.
Any other team and offer four years and approximately $141 million. Butler made clear to the Wolves he would not sign with them in the offseason even if they were the only team who could offer him the $190 million contract, and owner Glen Taylor vowed to honor Butlers trade request.
Taylor on Saturday declined to comment on the trade, which might not become official until Monday.
In the interim, Butlers situation with the team was less than cordial. In his first practice in early October, Butler blew up Wolves practice, shouted an expletive-laced brag at general manager Scott Layden and criticized teammates like Karl-Anthony Towns.
Then Butler sat down with ESPN later that day to talk about it and his situation with the Wolves.
In a meeting with Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, shortly before the season, Butler committed to playing while Taylor committed to finding a deal for him. Butler, however, sat out three games for precautionary rest and to heal his general soreness, as Thibodeau termed it in a move that was designed to help keep Butler from getting hurt and harming his trade value.
Reports surfaced that Butlers resting was his attempt to leverage his way out of town, reports he denied last week. The hope was that Butlers presence would at least help the Wolves off to a good start. The opposite happened.
The Wolves (4-9) suffered several close early losses and are still winless on the road. The team seemed to be handling the losing in stride until Friday. Derrick Rose and Butler both said the team was in need of some tough love, that they needed to learn how to criticize each other constructively.
Butler said he agreed with Roses notion that the Wolves needed to be able to communicate frankly with each other through both good and bad stretches of play, but he added: I dont think everybody can handle it I dont. I know actually. But Im with him on it. Everybody got to talk to one another and be able to handle it if somebody says something they may not like. Were all grown men.
It seemed to be a shot at the younger, higher paid teammates of Butlers like Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who Butler has not been shy about criticizing in the past. But now everybody gets to focus on the future.
Covington and Saric were both starters for the 76ers and figure to play prominent roles with the Wolves going forward while Bayless is currently out because of a knee injury.
The Wolves may look back and regret not taking the deal for Richardson, who is averaging 20.5 points per game for the Heat. That proposed deal also included a first-round pick.
But the trade they did make did was focused on helping the Wolves stay competitive now. Covington, who is averaging 11.3 points per game, adds a deep threat to the lineup while Saric is 6-10 and can also shoot the 3.
Butlers arrival in Philadelphia shakes up a competitive Eastern Conference, which is where the Wolves were reportedly determined to send Butler. Butler joins a talented core that includes Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
The Wolves traded for Butler in the summer of 2017 and relinquished a good chunk of their future doing so, sending away Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine and a pick that became Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls.
His arrival signaled a period of supposed optimism for the Wolves franchise, and the Wolves did make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
However, it was a season marked with more consternation than it should have in part because of Butlers strained relationship with Towns and Wiggins.
Over the summer, Butler made it clear to the organization that he did not see a future in Minneapolis.
Now everybody is parting ways.