The Jimmy Butler trade shook the NBA a bit late Saturday morning and even roughly one week later it’s still being evaluated. The Minnesota Timberwolves dealt their disgruntled star to the Philadelphia 76ers, a team who had seemingly lurked in the shadows throughout the process.
While the Houston Rockets were the team circled as the likely suitor for Butler throughout the final month or two of talks, Minnesota consistently pushed back. The Rockets’ offer which included four first-round picks wasn’t overly-intriguing due to how late the selections would have been. But even beyond that, the Timberwolves may have had other reasons for not choosing Houston.
In a recent story from Marc Stein of The New York Times, he dropped a not-so-subtle point that as aggressive as the Rockets had been, the Timberwolves didn’t want Butler there. Stein originally pointed out that Minnesota didn’t want to help make Houston a superteam. It wasn’t just Houston, though, as the front office was “intent” on moving Butler out of the Western Conference.
The Timberwolves also rebuffed numerous approaches from the Houston Rockets. Aside from Philadelphia, Houston had been Butler’s most aggressive suitor in recent days, offering four future first-round picks in its latest proposal. But Minnesota owner Glen Taylor and Thibodeau were intent on trading Butler to an Eastern Conference team.
It makes sense, especially considering the fact that Tom Thibodeau didn’t want to deal Butler in the first place. But even beyond that, the Rockets offering multiple first-round picks and one or two mediocre players to a team not looking to rebuild was never bound to get the job done.
Even putting all that to the side, the Rockets were left in a brutal spot assuming this was the case all along. Barring Houston offering a monster deal, it seems they may have had little chance at landing Butler when all was said and done.
Was Sixers’ Offer the Best One for Butler?
Although Dario Saric and Robert Covington are both strong players, the fact the Timberwolves didn’t land a first-round pick (they did get a 2022 second) has been a hot-button topic. The rumors and reports of most other trades included one, so it’s somewhat surprising Minnesota couldn’t convince the 76ers to up their offer to that.
Regardless, it’s hard to say whether this was the best deal on the table. The upside of Saric is an intriguing topic and Covington is an All-NBA defender with a legit ability to score. Both are better players at this point in their career while playing with a strong supporting cast, and the Timberwolves certainly provide that.
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