Report: 76ers, Wolves agree to trade for Butler

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4912/" data-ylk="slk:Jimmy Butler">Jimmy Butler</a> will be a Philadelphia 76er in short order, according to reports. (Getty)
Jimmy Butler will be a Philadelphia 76er in short order, according to reports. (Getty)

The Philadelphia 76ers have struck a blockbuster deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade for disgruntled all-star forward Jimmy Butler, according to multiple reports Saturday afternoon.

In return, Philadelphia will send forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric to Minnesota, according to reports from The Athletic and ESPN.

The full trade, per reports: The Sixers get Butler and injured second-year center Justin Patton in exchange for Saric, Covington, unwanted veteran Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick.

Does the deal make sense for the Sixers?

The Sixers, ever since this past summer, have been looking for a third major piece. They had, as head coach Brett Brown said, been “star-hunting.” But they struck out in free agency this past summer, and very well could have struck out in 2019 as well. So they increasingly felt as if they had to make their move via trade.

And they had the assets. So they pounced. Fans will feel uneasy about parting with Covington – one of the best wing defenders in the league on a team-friendly contract – and Saric – a unique, multi-talented forward. But both are limited. Butler can do most of what Covington excels at just as well, and provides a massive upgrade on the offensive end.

For the deal to work out for the Sixers, two things will have to happen. One, they’ll have to find role players who can mitigate the losses of Saric and Covington – and specifically they’re shooting. That won’t be easy to do. But it’s not impossible, either, and the Sixers still have draft picks to float in trade negotiations.

Secondly, Butler will have to work out. He’ll have to mesh with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. And there’s no guarantee he will, especially after clashing with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins in Minnesota. The deal boosts Philly in the short-term, but is really a medium-term play. It’s an effort to compete with Boston and perhaps Toronto not only this year, but over the next five years, give or take a few.

On that note, the most important aspect of the trade might be that the Sixers and Butler reportedly expect to agree to a contract that will keep Butler in Philadelphia beyond this year:

That’s the key. If Butler stays, and if he complements Philly’s young stars well, it’s a big win for the Sixers. But those are big “if”s.

Does the deal make sense for the Timberwolves?

The Wolves had to deal Butler. With every passing day, he was losing value. Had Minnesota refused to send him elsewhere, he would have left on his own this upcoming offseason and yielded the Wolves nothing in return.

But Minnesota, with owner Glen Taylor, head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden all involved in discussions, appears to have played their cards right. They didn’t jump at questionable offers from the Miami Heat or Houston Rockets. Instead, the held out for Philly, and found a balance between the present and future to appease both Thibodeau and other members of the front office.

Covington is 27, and under contract (at less than $13 million per year) through 2021-22. Saric is 24, with two years (including the current one) remaining on his rookie deal. Both fit on the same timeline as franchise centerpiece Karl-Anthony Towns and forward Andrew Wiggins.

The trade will reportedly be finalized on Monday on a call with the league office. And both sides will probably feel good about it.

The Wolves had become dysfunctional

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Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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