Things weren’t exactly buddy-buddy between Jimmy Butler and fellow Minnesota Timberwolves stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins leading into the season. Butler was actively pursuing a trade, and the rep around the NBA was that he did not believe in the work ethic of either Towns or Wiggins.
Now Butler is headed to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the deal should be completed early this coming week. As Butler departs, it appears the tone has changed in Minnesota somewhat, at least publicly.
On Saturday night, Sixers big man Joel Embiid said that both Towns and Wiggins had talked to him and said that they thought Butler was going to fit into the Philadelphia culture.
Wiggins even went so far as to make a proclamation about the 76ers’ playoff hopes, according to Embiid.
“They thought that he was going to be good for us,” Embiid told ESPN after a 112-106 overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. “They thought that we were definitely going to get along. He wants to win. Wiggs told me that he thought that we were going to win the East for sure.”
This could just be the Timberwolves youngsters feeling relieved that Butler is no longer clouding the situation around their franchise. Or perhaps they really do mean it? In either case, it will be massively interesting to see what happens with both of these teams moving forward.
The Timberwolves are just 4-9, but get some rotational help out of Robert Covington and Dario Saric through the trade with the Sixers. The situation with Tom Thibodeau is still tenuous, and expectations are for him to leave the franchise at the end of the year.
For Philadelphia, things remain complicated. Butler is a bonafide star and that should help them rise above the rest in the East. However, what the Sixers have desperately needed is more shooting and Butler is a ball-dominant player. Combined with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, it will be interesting to see how smooth they can get their offense to run even the tendencies of their top players.