Putting the Butler drama behind, Minnesota Timberwolves are a deeper team now
Minnesota Timberwolves GM Scott Layden relieved himself and his franchise of a huge headache. In the immediate aftermath of trades like this past weekend's deal that relieved the Timberwolves of any further dealings with Jimmy Butler, the question arises who won the deal?
In my humble estimation, it appears that the Timberwolves won this deal. It's not a one-sided deal, but Philadelphia lost a lot of team depth that they will have to work on replacing it and the Timberwolves got better and deeper.
To revisit the trade, the Philadelphia 76ers received Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton while the Minnesota Timberwolves obtained Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and Dario Saric along with a second-round draft pick. Basically, in Bayless and Covington the Timberwolves added two decent defenders and credible 3-point shooters. Covington shoots 34% from 3-point` range career wise and Bayless shoots 36.6% from beyond the arc.
While Bayless may not have been productive in his time in Philly he can shoot and at 6’3 he can play either guard spot and defend. For a small forward, at 6’9 Covington brings size to the position and length. He has shown signs of being a lockdown defender and could start for a number of NBA teams.
Dario Saric, while not considered as a strong defender, does provide you with an additional scoring option in the post, as well as, a good shot from the perimeter. Add these three to stars Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns, Taj Gibson, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Josh Okogie, Luol Deng, Anthony Tolliver and Tyus Jones and the Timberwolves could make some noise in the Western Conference.
Essentially, Minnesota has options at several spots on the floor. They are stronger at the guard spot and Derrick Rose showed recently he can still put up MVP numbers on any given night (50 points on Halloween Night).
Taj Gibson is a tough defender and rebounder, at the power forward spot, while Saric, in relief, provides offense. Covington, who technically would slot in behind Wiggins on the depth chart could depending on matchups and his defensive prowess play 2-guard or at the 4 with his 6’9 frame causing match problems for smaller guards or slower power forwards.
The Timberwolves added two defenders and some scoring to replace Jimmy Butler. Coach Tom Thibodeau has choices off the bench and perhaps better team players to work with.
By my reasoning, Minnesota would have done exceptionally well to take Houston’s 4 1st round draft picks. However, it would have meant extra work. Timberwolves GM Scott Layden made it clear after the Houston offer that he wanted immediate help, by countering and asking for Eric Gordon, in any deal for Butler.
With Towns and Wiggins, it’s clearly Layden’s belief that Minnesota’s time to compete is now and so their two young stars need support, not future potential additions. It's also easier to re-sign either star if the team has the pieces in place to make consistently long playoff runs. Draft picks are never a guarantee of anything.
While it's hard to say this deal was a steal it was a solid team-building move. It removed a major headache for the Timberwolves in Butler who was making outrageous demands for a contract extension and then trying to force a trade all the while publicly causing rifts between him and his teammates and Minnesota’s management.
The drama is over in Minnesota. Now we have to wait till April to determine if Minnesota made the right move. It appears they have, but it most likely will be relatively normal if not good for the Timberwolves moving forward.