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Philadelphia 76ers bet their depth on Jimmy Butler

Jason Mills
15 Nov 2018, 09:27 IST

Jimmy Butler in his first competitive game for the Philadelphia 76ers
Jimmy Butler in his first competitive game for the Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers have won the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes. It cost them depth, but I’m not sure what they have added. Jimmy Butler has shamed young teammates publicly in Chicago. He has shamed younger teammates in Minnesota publicly as well. He even attacked the management telling Minnesota GM Scott Layden: “You can’t win without me”, during training camp after making outrageous contract and trade demands.

So that’s two franchises that have tried to make Jimmy Butler a leader and two franchises that have had to cut ties with the gifted but emotionally unstable talent that is Jimmy Butler. Philadelphia will be his third NBA home and they have a lot of good young talent. Youth that needs veteran leadership; leadership Philly GM Elton Brand will be hoping Butler will discover miraculously 8 years into a tumultuous career.

The Minnesota Timberwolves sent Justin Patton and Jimmy Butler to the 76ers and in return received Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2nd round pick. It's my opinion that Houston’s offer of four 1st round picks was more lucrative, however, Minnesota's GM was on record as wanting someone(s) who could play now believing Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns is their present and future.

As for Philadelphia, they are starting five great players, but they are thin in their rotation. Simmons, Redick, Butler, Wilson Chandler and Joel Embiid will need to rest. This deal stripped away any semblance of a reliable second unit Philadelphia may have had.

Markelle Fultz is trying to recover after a lost rookie season due to injury and a remade shooting stroke as a result of the injury. TJ McConnell is in his third year. Mike Muscala has averaged 14.7 minutes per game and 5.4 points per game in 5 previous seasons.

Since leaving Toronto, for Boston, as a free agent, in the summer of 2015, back up centre Amir Johnson has seen a steady decline in minutes playing a per game average of 15.8 in 74 games for Philadelphia last season. Furkan Korkmaz played just 14 games last season. In other words, this is not a bench or a rotation that instils confidence.

Philadelphia lost the two-way play of Robert Covington who shoots a decent 34% from the 3-point arc and who can also play great defense. Jerryd Bayless, a bigger combo guard who defends well is also lost as is the double-digit scoring and 6.5 rpg average Dario Saric brings to the court.

If Philadelphia, truly wishes to compete with Toronto, Boston or Milwaukee they will need to add depth, as each of those competitors has it in spades. At this stage, Philadelphia may need to move draft picks or some of their younger less experienced talent to add depth to the roster. Other possibilities would be signing available veteran free agents at the mid or bi-annual exceptions or even the league minimum salary. They do need depth.

The success or failure of this first major deal Elton Brand has swung, as Philadelphia GM, depends heavily on Jimmy Butler. Will he become the leader three NBA GM’s have now bet he can be or will he continue to destroy team chemistry and a franchise’s hopes? 


There is a saying - when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Butler has shown himself, his true self twice once, in Chicago and once in Minnesota. This deal could define Elton Brand as a rising star in NBA management or get him fired like Kevin Pritchard three years after draft bust Greg Oden. Pritchard has resurfaced in Indiana but poor trades and draft decisions usually are the death toll for hopeful general managers.

Lost in all the drama that is Jimmy Butler is the fact he has skills. However, in his desire to win he has forgotten that it takes effort, dedication and teammates to turn losing into winning. There are many great players that have never won an NBA championship and played on horrible teams.

One thing is for - sure alienating your teammates and team management won’t improve winning or losing. Time will tell us if Jimmy Butler is better than who he is now or have we already seen what will be a continuing stale act? Philadelphia bet all their team depth on the notion that Butler is better than what he’s shown us so far.

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