Do you believe in miracles? On this wintry afternoon in Minneapolis, I kind of do.
Over the past 10 days, I began growing weary that Tom Thibodeau and the Timberwolves might never honor Jimmy Butler’s trade request. As a long-time follower of this franchise, one of the constants has been their inability to make quick decisions and, well, do what the fans want them to do.
But they finally did. Jimmy Buckets—more recently known as General Soreness due his absences from the hardwood—has been traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, along with the brittle feet of failed draft pick Justin Patton, who’s third-year option was not picked up earlier this season. With the Sixers, Jimmy will team-up with the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to create a dynamic trio, boosting the Sixers title odds from 30-1 to 16-1 immediately after the trade.
In return, the Wolves are receiving Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and the Sixers 2022 second round pick. My instant reaction to the long overdue move:
I am finally filled with peace. I am Ron Swanson canoeing on a gorgeous day without a care in the world. The nightmarish circus that has corrupted the first 13 games, leading to an eye-rolling 4-9 start, is finally over. The distraction has been removed. Butler, while an incredible basketball player, is Philadelphia's problem now.
Given the circumstances and dysfunction—the most commonly used word in Wolvesdom this season—surrounding the team, this is an amazing return. Any other conclusion seems rooted in naivety. Covington and Saric are extremely legitimate players who have been bad this season but quite obviously are talented. Don’t faint after reading this but ... these are real floor spacers! I honestly can’t be the only one head over heels for this return.
An all-time favorite player of ours here at Canis Hoopus is going to rep the Wolves at Target Center. Some call him RoCo, I call him Bob Cov. But whatever you want to refer to him as, Covington is exactly the 3-and-D type player the Wolves desperately need. They’ve always needed a player like Covington. He will quickly become a fan favorite. His defense is electric. And he can shoot! You guys, he can really shoot. This is a best case scenario trade for the Wolves right now. The poison is gone. General Soreness will not be reporting to the Great Wolf War of 2018 any longer.
What’s more? Covington is also locked into a contract through the 2021 season on a team friendly deal. (Sorry I feel like a lot of the responses on my Twitter timeline do not understand THE FACT THAT JIMMY BUTLER COULD HAVE WALKED AWAY FOR NOTHING IN THE OFFSEASON IF THEY DIDN’T MOVE HIM BEFORE THE FEBRUARY TRADE DEADLINE, so I wanted to bring that up again before telling you what Covington’s contract looks like.)
That’s a long-term asset right there! And what he’s good at is hard to find!
Then there’s Dario Saric, a tantalizing player in his own right. Sure, he’s off to a bad season in his third year but almost all of the Sixers not named Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons are too. Are we going to ignore what Saric did in his sophomore season at age 23? Are we going to not bring up his rookie scale cap hit next season worth $3.4 million? Are we going to forget about his 39.3% on 399 three-point attempts last season? Or how he might be an extremely fantastic stretch 4 next to Karl-Anthony Towns for years and years to come...
Now the Wolves have two highly legitimate floor spacers on outstanding contracts, and it’s hard to shake this feeling: man, this is a super strong trade package, even if it doesn’t include a future first rounder like some people might have been dead set on. The Wolves can now build the offense around Towns and toss him the controls. Andrew Wiggins will have more possessions, and driving lanes, to earn his max contract. Pace and space is going to be that much easier to emphasize with the shooting that Covington and Saric offer.
But mostly it’s the toxicity overwhelming this franchise, which has now been significantly reduced with the deal, that brings the most joy. Everyone involved can start to move forward, chasing that dreamy future both parties desire.
In truth, I couldn’t love this trade anymore given what the other reasonable outcomes appeared to be. Didn’t people (once again) say the Wolves had no leverage? Well, we can toast to this: the no leverage Wolves made a fantastic trade that should re-ignite the passion around the team and among the fan base.
You know what...
The Wolves are back, baby! They’re now armed with two Sixers Snipers and the youth that Jimmy Butler never knew how to appropriately guide.