On this day, November 10th of 2018, the Wolves traded disgruntled star Jimmy “General Soreness” Butler and Justin “We should’ve taken OG” Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Robert “Lord” Covington, Dario Saric, Jared Bayless and a 2022 2nd round pick. The Wolves lose 5 straight games on the road to give them a 4-9 start to the season.
Wanted to get some immediate thoughts down for Wolves fans to digest.
- Goodbye Jimmy!
Man, what a distraction. Glad that is over. Easily one of the worst experiences in Wolves history. The dark cloud can now move away. Jimmy Butler will return to Minneapolis to play the Wolves in March 30th, pending he chooses to sit due to general soreness. Looking forward to Boos, fights, and all that is in between. Not sure why Wolves fans were cheering for him in the first place.
- Thank God Markelle Fultz wasn’t involved in the trade
Fultz has dealt with injuries and an ever-evolving shooting form. One of the weirdest stories that is outside of Minnesota. He could develop into a good player but I don’t think Minnesota is the place for him. Plus, with Derrick Rose playing the way that he is, no need to bring in a 4th point guard.
- Not taking back a guard means belief in, or at least more minutes for Josh Okogie and a bigger role for Derrick Rose
Compared to other trade packages, the Wolves brought back two forwards instead of receiving a high-caliber guard to replace Jimmy Butler’s production. Whether that be Josh Richardson or Eric Gordon, this opens up minutes at the 2-guard dramatically. Once Jeff Teague is healthy, Derrick Rose could move to the bench again or as the starting shooting guard. Judging by defensive needs though, this could mean Josh Okogie is the long-term starter at shooting guard this season. This is great news for his development. Okogie will have to learn to be patient on the offensive end while bringing the same energy (‘same energy’ is the best thing that came out of the Butler feud btw) on the defensive end. If Wiggins and Teague have ongoing injury concerns though, the Wolves look really lite at guard now.
- Teague, Gibson, Dieng and Jones should be made available
Specifically for Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson, they were Jimmy Butler guys. With him here no longer, the Wolves need to assess their value. Gibson is an interesting trade piece as a $14M expiring contract. Jeff Teague has a player option for $19M this summer that he would be dumb to decline. That said, a team looking to add depth and/ or veterans (hello Lakers) might find value in either guy. Dieng and Jones are more opportunistic thoughts. Dieng is in a terrible contract but provides decent minutes. Jones will be a free agent and will likely lose minutes to Rose at the PG long term.
- Convington and Saric are solid additions
I actually really like Robert Covington and Dario Saric. I think Covington provides great defense, shooting and size. He will provide good looks as a stretch 4 alongside Towns for stretches. Expecting him to do more than provide 3s and Defense on the court will be a mistake. He is 27 and signed through 2022 to a reasonable contract.
Dario Saric is one of the most undervalued players in the league. He shoots the 3 ball well and can rebound. He provides a good option on offense. He is only 24 and is on his rookie contract through the end of the 2020 season. The Wolves will get a good look at him until they decide to extend him. It will be interesting to see is Saric starts over Gibson at some point this season or not. Saric’s offense could truly benefit the bench.
- Sigh for Keita Bates-Diop
This trade is likely the worst thing that can happen for KBD. I think if he got minutes at PF over Anthony Tolliver at some point this season, he could provide some value. Unfortunately, Covington and Saric are going to be hard to take minutes from now or in the future. Not sure what this means for the long-term future for KBD here, but it can’t be that good.
- Long jam at forward now, something else needs to happen
The above two points means that the Wolves have Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Taj Gibson, Anthony Tolliver, Keita Bates-Diop, and Luol Deng all capable of logging minutes at power forward. Tolliver is likely the one to fall out of the rotation immediately.
- The season is unfortunately still lost. Don’t hope for the playoffs
We’ve seen this stuff before. The Wolves didn’t make this trade to improve their roster, they made this trade to salvage their locker room. That rarely means a roster improvement. At the end of the day Jimmy Butler on this roster gave the Wolves the best chance to win and now they will be forced to try to pick up the pieces and move forward. Being that the Wolves are in the competitive Western Conference, are young and don’t really have a true-defined leader in the locker room, this transition will likely be difficult. The team also has lost all trust in Tom Thibodeau and him still being employed seems to be Glen Taylor looking to simply save money. The Wolves would need to go 37-32 JUST to be .500. I don’t see this Wolves team doing that at all.