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A number of NBA teams offered trade packages to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler before he was acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers, and Jon Krawczynski and Shams Charania of The Athletic broke down the bids Monday.
The Miami Heat proposed Goran Dragic, Justise Winslow and a draft pick in one deal and Josh Richardson and a first-rounder in another; the Houston Rockets went with four first-round picks, Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss in an early offer and Eric Gordon, Nene and two first-rounders in their final offer; and the New Orleans Pelicans put forth Nikola Mirotic and an unprotected first-rounder.
The Sixers won the day, however, sending Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-rounder to the Wolves for Butler and Justin Patton.
“Knowing him as long as I’ve known him, I think he was little taken back by it, a little bit shocked,” Minnesota’s Taj Gibson said of Butler’s reaction to the trade, per Krawczynski and Charania. “No matter what, even if you want to ask for a trade, if you want to get traded, when you finally get traded, it’s kind of like a weird feeling. Like, wow, it’s really happening. That’s the moment I felt for him.”
In Philadelphia, Butler will form a Big Three alongside elite young players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, offering the Sixers a two-way star and vital shot-creation skills.
Minnesota will get two solid role players to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Saric offers floor-spacing and playmaking as a stretch 4 and should pair with Towns nicely. Covington will be the team’s best perimeter defender and add three-point shooting from the wing.
Perhaps more interesting, however, will be where the teams that didn’t land Butler turn next. Houston (5-7) has been in disarray, and Carmelo Anthony appears likely to be cut, per Tim MacMahon of ESPN.com. The Rockets have struggled to replace the defensive impact players like Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute offered on the wing last season.
They seem likely to be major players in either trade talks or on the buyout market as they look to restore their magical formula of a season ago.
Miami (5-7) seems more likely to sit tight with its roster barring another star being put on the market or the team slipping out of the playoff picture.
And then there’s New Orleans (6-6), which is trying to build a contender around superstar Anthony Davis. The Pelicans could lose him after the 2019-20 season, when he can forgo his 2020-21 player option and become a free agent.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported New Orleans refused to include Jrue Holiday or multiple draft picks during talks with Minnesota for Butler.
If the goal is to add a star alongside Davis and Holiday, the Pelicans will likely need to make a splash in free agency. But the team has only $19.9 million in practical cap space for next season, per Spotrac.com, not enough to attract a premier free agent.
Finding a suitor for Solomon Hill (due $12.8 million next season) and/or E’Twaun Moore ($8.7 million) could give them the room to make a splash. It would also help if Julius Randle declined his $9.1 million player option.
It could be the last chance the Pelicans have to put together an attractive enough team to keep Davis in New Orleans for the long haul, so they’ll be a fascinating team to monitor both before this year’s trade deadline and over the summer.