Post Jimmy Butler Trade Thoughts

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.

 

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Why We Expect Rubio and Shabazz Gone This Summer

IM GEHRZ • JGEHRZ@STARTRIBUNE.COM

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JIM GEHRZ JGEHRZ@STARTRIBUINE.COM

The trade deadline is about 24 hours away and the main swirls of trade rumors have been around Ricky Rubio and Shabazz Muhammad for the Wolves. There have been rumors that the Wolves are listening to offers for Rubio but that he is going nowhere by tomorrow (it would make for an awkward Ricky Rubio Bobblehead night on Saturday). Several teams have reached out to the Wolves with strong interest in Shabazz Muhammad as well. While nothing looks plausible at this point, the summer will possibly present some new possibilities.

There are many micro and macro reasons why I expect the Wolves to trade Rubio and Bazz this summer. Lets start with the macro.

The league is moving towards a new Collective Bargaining Agreement in which the Salary Cap is going to rise a significant amount. A majority of the league will then be under the salary cap which means there will be a lot more flexibility with trades. Contrary to how teams approach the trade deadline, many teams will be exploring new strategies and looking to refresh their lineup. Typically during the trade deadline, deals are done by teams either in sell-mode or buy-mode. The summer is a more open canvas, especially with the salary cap increase.

Speaking of canvases, the Wolves seem to have an outline to a master piece without an artist to finish it. Flip laid the groundworks of a future championship contender and the Wolves don’t currently have the decision-makers in place to make deals to build around Towns, Wiggins, and LaVine. Chances are, the GM and Coach are for the Wolves this coming summer¬†will have some major decisions to make. This team can start competing next season.

The biggest decision will come around Ricky Rubio. Personally, I think trading Ricky Rubio would be the biggest mistake this team can make. Outside of Towns, Ricky gives this team the biggest chance to win. His shooting woes seem to be overly-magnified as he makes everyone around him better. But the Wolves may take a different direction this summer. There are, what are perceived as, decent point guard prospects in the draft in Kris Dunn and Jamal Murray. The Wolves may look to add a solid back up point guard in Free Agency and try to play LaVine at the starting point guard position. I think either of these would be huge mistakes.

The only way I would be comfortable with moving Rubio this summer is through a trade that brought a better point guard to the team, maybe an Eric Bledsoe? I would imagine if Rubio is traded, the Wolves would try to bring in a point guard that fits better with their young core. This could be done with pairing Rubio with a guy who has some trade value, like Shabazz Muhammad.

Speaking of Shabazz – what is going to happen with him? As the season has played out, his ceiling with the Wolves is looking like a 6th man type of player. There is definitely an opportunity elsewhere where his role could be bigger. The tipping point though is his contract situation. Bazz will move into the final year of his Rookie Scale contract and will be eligible for a contract extension this summer into next season, if the Wolves choose to do so.

The Wolves will need to do some soul searching here. Gorgui Dieng will be in the same situation as Shabazz, but all signs point towards the Dieng getting an extension. He has played well alongside Towns and continued to improve his game. In the 2017 summer, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine will also be eligible for contract extensions. The summer after that, the Wolves will also look to lock in Karl-Anthony Towns. As flexibility is important when it comes to cap space, Shabazz may need to be traded while he still has some value and isn’t lost for nothing in free agency.

Looking forward to the summer, Muhammad will likely be used as a deal sweetener. Whether he is added to a deal that moves Rubio or as a piece that is dealt with to move up/ down the draft boards, Muhammad will likely be used to enhance a deal to favor the Wolves. Shabazz will be a low-risk, high-reward type of player who will be in the final year of their contract for a team and can be brought back if a team likes what they see in Shabazz.

I would hate to see Shabazz leave. He seems like the kind of player that has a significant role player-role on a contending team that can have series changing games. Unfortunately, his shooting hasn’t developed into what the Wolves need and neither has his defense. For those reasons, it has been hard to play him alongside Wiggins for long stretches of time.

The Wolves would be doing an injustice if they didn’t capitalize on Shabazz’s value this summer by adding another asset better suited for their young core. I still hope that the Wolves can figure out how to use Rubio still, but it may be time to part ways and add a piece that can benefit the Wolves long term as well. The trade rumors have started now as the trade deadline approaches. And while the Wolves will more than likely not make a trade by tomorrow, this summer could be a lot different.

The Timber Rebuilder.