Source: Sixers trade three players, draft pick for Butler
Jimmy Butler has his wish: He’s out of Minnesota.
And just like that, Philadelphia has a new Big Three – one that could make serious noise in the Eastern Conference.
An anonymous source with knowledge of the situation said Saturday that Butler is being traded to the 76ers in a package that will send Dario Saric and Robert Covington to the Timberwolves. The trade is pending NBA approval, which is not expected until Monday.
Justin Patton will also be sent to Philadelphia, and Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick are also going to Minnesota, the person said.
The Athletic first reported the agreement.
Because the trade was not official, Sixers coach Brett Brown had little comment.
“I can’t speak much about it. I’m sorry,” he said before the Sixers played Memphis.
Sixers guard T.J. McConnell said he learned of the deal through social media.
“I didn’t think it was true until more reports started coming out,” McConnell said. “It’s kind of that feeling in your stomach of just like, I mean, you can’t really explain it. I was in disbelief.”
Philadelphia’s “Process” led it to the second round of the playoffs last season behind two of the game’s youngest, brightest stars in center Joel Embiid and point guard Ben Simmons. Butler, an elite wing and outstanding defender, will join them in a quest to rule the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James has moved west to join the Los Angeles Lakers following eight straight NBA Finals trips with Miami and Cleveland.
The first order of business will be making the trade official, something that could come in time to get Butler in uniform for a game at Miami on Monday. The next step for Philadelphia will be coming to an agreement on an extension for Butler, a pending free agent who made clear to Minnesota that he would not be re-signing there in 2019.
Translated: The Wolves had to trade him, or they would lose him for nothing over the summer.
There has been Butler drama every step of the way this season.
ESPN reported that at his first practice with Minnesota this fall, Butler verbally challenged players, coaches and general manager Scott Layden while dominating in scrimmages, even when going up against stars like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Butler said the report was true.
“All my emotion came out at one time,” Butler told ESPN later that day. “Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s my love of the game. That’s raw me. Me at my finest, me at my purest. That’s what you’re going to get inside the lines.”
Butler continued to be miserable in Minnesota, and the Timberwolves have gotten off to a lousy start waiting for this inevitable move. Minnesota finished a 0-5 road trip with a loss in Sacramento on Friday night and is 4-9 overall – 0-8 on the road.
Butler played in 10 of those games, averaging 21.3 points. It was a peculiar arrangement; the Timberwolves were still running things through him often, even while the worst-kept secret in the NBA was that he wanted a change of address. Plenty of teams were mentioned along the way as top candidates.
McConnell said it was obvious Butler was unhappy in Minnesota, but thought a change of scenery could help.
“I think him getting a fresh start on a team like ours will be beneficial to both sides. We’re looking forward to him,” the Sixers guard said.
Jimmy Butler, right, is headed to Philadelphia via trade after playing 69 games for Minnesota. The 6-foot-8 swingman has averaged nearly 22 points per game since the start of the 2014-15 season, when he earned his first NBA All-Star selection.