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Report: Minnesota agrees to trade Jimmy Butler Philadelphia for Robert Covington, Dario Saric

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Minnesota lost every game on a five-game road trip, with Friday night’s loss in Sacramento being the last straw — even Tom Thibodeau finally had to admit that the chemistry on his Timberwolves squad was a disaster with the Jimmy Butler trade request hanging over the team.

Meanwhile, Philadelphia has started off slow and played flat — while they are 8-5 they have the point differential of a team 6-7 (a net rating of -0.6) with a bottom ten offense. While Joel Embiid has been a beast, Ben Simmons has plateaued to start the season, Markelle Fultz is still figuring a lot of things out, and the Sixers have just looked pedestrian. They needed a jump start.

Jimmy Butler will do that.

The Sixers will acquire Butler as well as Justin Patton in a trade that will send Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second round pick to the Timberwolves. Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of the Athletic broke the story, which has since been confirmed by others.

With the league offices closed for the weekend, the trade cannot become official until Monday when the trade call can take place.

Philadelphia is trading for Butler with the full intention of re-signing him next summer when Butler is a free agent, and there is no way this deal gets done without a wink-and-nod agreement from Butler’s team that he would stay. The max he can earn is five years, $190 million, and while other teams are hesitant about that length of a deal for Butler, the Sixers have cashed in key assets and are all in now.

Minnesota did okay in what was a shotgun deal after Butler dropped his trade request right before the start of camp (although I think Miami’s Josh Richardson/first rounder offer was better). Robert Covington is a coveted “3&D” wing who will bring the kind of hustle and energy that Minnesota needs (and Butler delivered, but Covington will do it with less ego and attitude). Dario Saric gives them another big who can stretch the floor.

Minnesota also sent Butler out of the West, where he could have done a lot more damage to the Timberwolves in an already stacked conference.

Philadelphia looked back at last summer — when they went big game hunting for another star player, only to strike out — then looked at the free agency landscape going forward and realized they needed to act now. It’s a gamble that Butler, Embiid, and Simmons can mesh, but it’s a good bet to take. Philly’s big four — Embiid, Butler, Simmons, with J.J. Redick — is as good as anyone’s (outside of the Bay Area) but who will be the fifth player, and will the Sixers depth step become the questions. What this ultimately means for Markelle Fultz is also something to watch.

Knicks reportedly promote assistant Mike Malone to head coach

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David Fizdale is out as the Knicks head coach after an ugly 4-18 start to the season.

Who will coach the Knicks next season depends on the answer to another question: Are team president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry safe, or are they on their way out, too?

In the short term, New York will promote Mike Miller into the big chair, and bring up Keith Bogans from the G-League coaching staff to round out the roster, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Miller spent four years as the head coach of the Westchester Knicks, the franchise’s G-League affiliate, and was the G-League Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season. He was eventually promoted to the Knicks bench.

Don’t expect a major shake-up in the Knicks’ offensive and defensive systems, or with the rotations, at least in the short term. There just are not a lot of practice days built into the NBA schedule to allow a mid-season replacement to overhaul everything. Plus, with this roster, there’s only so much a human being can do.

 

As was expected, Stephen Curry reportedly has second wrist surgery to remove pins

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This was both expected and right on schedule.

Stephen Curry said almost a month ago that he was going to need a second surgery to remove pins that were inserted during the first procedure back on Nov. 1. Curry suffered a fractured hand back on Oct. 30 when Suns’ center Aron Baynes fell on him, and in the first surgery pins were inserted to stabilize the bone through the healing process.

That second surgery has taken place, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Curry has said he fully expects to play this season, although it wouldn’t be until the end of what is a lost cause campaign for Golden State. For now, Curry is focused on recovery.

“[Managing the]swelling is something that’s going to be of the utmost priority early in the rehab process to get me a chance to come back and get my range of motion back pretty quickly,” Curry said last time he spoke to the media.

Without Curry or Klay Thompson yet this season (plus, of course, Kevin Durant on crutches in Brooklyn), and D'Angelo Russell missing a chunk of time as well due to injury, the Warriors have struggled to a 4-19 record with a bottom-five offense and defense.

The hope for the Warriors is to get Curry and Thompson back by next summer and working out, they get a high draft pick, make a couple other moves around the edges, get Draymond Green healthy, and this team is a threat again. This season it’s more like the Warriors are taking a season off to find themselves and travel the world.

Report: Knicks fire David Fizdale

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The Knicks started 2-8.

Then, it got worse.

Knicks owner James Dolan ordered president Steve Mills and general manager Scott Perry to address the media after a loss. Mills and Perry spoke before coach David Fizdale, a break in decorum that ignited speculation about Fizdale getting fired.

Then, it got worse.

New York lost six straight.

Then, it got worse.

After a 44-point loss to the Bucks, Fizdale said the Knicks entered the game not believing they even could win. They followed that with a 37-point home loss to the Nuggets yesterday that Fizdale called “sickening.”

Finally, with New York 4-18 and on an eight-game losing streak, the Knicks are making a major change.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

This was inevitable. Mills wanted Fizdale gone and knows how to navigate Madison Square Garden politics.

The season was already a lost cause, and it’s likely to remain a mess. Keith Smart, who previously coached the Warriors and Kings, was the only other member of the staff with NBA non-interim head-coaching experience.

The big question: Will Mills and Perry survive?

They gave Fizdale a lacking roster and outsized expectations. Nearly any coach would have been doomed to fail in this situation.

To be fair, Fizdale provided no evidence he deserved to be an exception. The Knicks lacked identity under his guidance, and development of younger players was uneven.

But the problems go way above Fizdale, starting with Dolan.

At least we’ll always have this Fizdale quote comparing the Knicks to slipping in ice, dog poop and pee.

The best song you’ll hear about Jimmy Butler bullying Andrew Wiggins into being good (video)

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Jimmy Butler was hard on Andrew Wiggins. That appeared to be the way then-Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau wanted it. Wiggins had the talent. He just needed a more productive mindset.

Thibodeau got fired. Butler is with the Heat.

But Wiggins is still in Minnesota and playing better than ever – specifically citing wanting to shut up the critics.

Do Butler and Thibodeau deserve any credit?

Wordsplayed explored that in rap form on “Off The Dribble.” He also dropped bars on the 76ers’ ceiling, James Harden‘s scoring and Carmelo Anthony‘s resurgence with the Trail Blazers.