Thank You Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

On Monday, it will become official. Jimmy Butler will be a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. Over the course of the past year and a half, Butler has put Minnesota fans through it all. He taught Minnesota how to love basketball again. Butler gave Wolves fans a sense of hope and optimism for the future. He got Minnesota back to the playoffs, a place they hadn’t been since the Kevin Garnett days. Then, he also taught Minnesota that they can’t be too fortunate. Right when fans were hopeful of the future, ready to make another run at the playoffs, Butler asked out. But, let’s forget about that and look back on the good times that Jimmy Butler provided for Minnesota. Timberwolves fans, it’s time to say “Thank You” to Jimmy Butler.

 

Jimmy Butler,

Thank you for bringing back basketball hope to the state of Minnesota. The 2017 NBA Draft had Minnesota buzzing after the trade for you was completed. Wolves fans finally felt like they had a legitimate chance at making the playoffs again for the first time since the 2003/04 season.

Thank you for giving out your phone number when you were introduced in Minnesota. Wolves fans bought in on that day. People could sense your determination and will to win, it was very apparent.

Thank you for playing with 100% energy and effort every game of the season. It’s not always the easiest thing to play at full effort, especially when you’re playing 40 minutes a game, thank you Tom Thibodeau. But, you didn’t complain. No matter how tired or out of breath you were, the effort was always there.

Thank you for providing Wolves fans and NBA fans across the globe with a number of classic GIFS. Especially my favorite video of you messing with Taj after a failed full-court heave.

Thank you for bringing the Minnesota Timberwolves back to the playoffs. It was a long 13 years for Minnesota basketball. It was quite the drought. I think half of Minnesota didn’t even realize we had a professional men’s basketball team anymore. But, that night at Target Center against the Denver Nuggets to get into the playoffs was special. Target Center was rocking, and there’s a chance we won’t see the Target Center like that again, at least in the immediate future.

Your time in Minnesota came to a sour end, and Wolves fans won’t be happy with that. But, for a franchise that had been missing the “it” player for over a decade, thank you for showing Minnesota what it’s like to watch winning basketball again.

Jimmy Butler Trade: Initial Reactions

Jimmy Butler

When the Sixers and Wolves get on the phone with the league office on Monday morning, it will all be official. Jimmy Butler is being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. The complete trade is as follows: the Wolves will send Butler and Justin Patton to Philly in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick. Initially, it looks like a deal that both sides should be comfortable with, at least given the circumstances. Minnesota finally gets to move on, and hopefully, start looking like a basketball team again. The Sixers get a third star to pair with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. For the purpose of this article, I will be providing reactions on the side of the Timberwolves.

 

It was time to move on

When push comes to shove, the Timberwolves had to trade Jimmy Butler. They already let the situation go on too long, and it was beginning to take a toll on the locker room. Media members who were in Minnesota’s locker room following their loss to the Kings last night described the scene as frustrated and beat up. Despite the players insisting that the Butler situation wasn’t affecting their play, it was hard to deny the lack of chemistry on the court for Minnesota early in the season.

 

Was this the best deal?

Perhaps Minnesota didn’t get the best deal. Their best offer could’ve came before the season when Miami reportedly offered Josh Richardson and a first-round pick to Minnesota. The Wolves balked and had to settle for what they could get. However, the deal they did get was not equal value, but good value considering the situation.

 

The new-look Wolves

Perhaps the biggest winner in this trade is Karl-Anthony Towns. It appears the Wolves are ready to run through the all-star center on offense, something Wolves fans have been pleading for all season. With Butler out of town, Towns and Wiggins will be the main scoring threats for Minnesota, and with all the talk about Minnesota not being able to win without Jimmy, those two players should be motivated. Additionally, getting Covington and Saric provide long-term stability to the roster that sets them up great for the years to come. While the team may flourish under a coach not named Tom Thibodeau, this was the first step in the right direction.

Robert Covington and Dario Saric
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

How the new guys fit in

If I had to guess, Covington and Saric should see themselves plug right into the starting lineup. While Thibs may decide to keep Taj Gibson in the starting lineup, with Saric coming off the bench, Saric needs to be the starter while Minnesota plays this season out.

The biggest upside to the return for Minnesota is the spacing that Covington and Saric provide. Covington is attempting 5.9 threes per game this season, while Saric is also shooting 5.4 shots from downtown this season. Minnesota has been focused on the three ball so far this season, and Covington and Saric will provide even better spacing for Minnesota when they enter the lineup. In Philly, Covington and Saric were a big reason why Embiid could be so efficient in the paint. Guys who were defending Covington or Saric could not sag off those guys to help on Embiid, because both players are effective shooters from three.

Another upside in the return for Minnesota is Covington’s defensive ability. Widely known as a great perimeter defender, Covington will likely guard the opposing team’s most effective player night in and night out. Minnesota is not a great defensive team, and while trading Butler will hurt their defense, adding Covington will make the drop off a little less hurtful.

 

Conclusion

As I have said all too many times, this was a move the Wolves needed to make. It was time, everybody knew it, and it was getting obvious on the court. While the Wolves likely won’t be contending for a title anytime soon, this was the first step in the right direction in getting Minnesota where they want to be.

11/4 Timberwolves @ Blazers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Blazers: 111, Timberwolves: 81

In what was a gloomy night with General Soreness, Jeff Teague, and Derrick Rose out, the Wolves showed little life. Tonight’s Rapid Reactions will be a little different. The reactions will be mostly from the fans, getting their thoughts on the game. Let’s dive in!

My Thoughts:

Your Thoughts:

As you can tell, all is good in Wolves land. Sleep well Wolves nation.

And as always, ice up, you don’t want general soreness.

11/2 Timberwolves @ Warriors Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Warriors: 116, Timberwolves: 99

Timberwolves:

  • Minnesota held with the Warriors for most of the game, but the Warriors made their typical fourth quarter run to put Minnesota away. However, the Timberwolves’ play up until the halfway mark in the fourth was encouraging.
  • Minnesota was not shy from the three-point line. The Wolves attempted 45 threes in the game, but they connected on just 13 of the tries. In contrast, the Warriors made just as many threes, but it took Golden State 11 less attempts.
  • Jimmy Butler was ice cold from three. After a great display of three-point shooting in the win over the Lakers on Monday, Butler was 0-8 from three tonight. Butler forced a number of shots throughout the game, especially in the fourth quarter when Minnesota needed a bucket.
  • The Timberwolves move the ball with Tyus Jones. The Wolves’ ball movement with and without Jones in the game is a completely different story. Jones recorded eight assists tonight, and when he was on the bench, the Wolves lost all ball movement.
  • The Timberwolves only turned the ball over five times, yet they still lost by double-digits. Against the Warriors, Minnesota needed to play a perfect game to come out with the victory, and in terms of turnovers, they did just that.

Warriors:

  • When Golden State gets DeMarcus Cousins healthy, this team will quite literally be unbeatable. Teams currently have a chance to play a perfect game to beat Golden State. However, when the Warriors add another all-star into their lineup, teams might as well not even show up to the arena.
  • Steph Curry makes basketball look so easy. Curry barely broke a sweat tonight, yet he managed 28 points on 11-24 shooting from the field. In what seemed like a “quiet” performance for Curry, games like this could help boost Curry into another MVP-type season.
  • Golden State dominated the glass. The Warriors controlled the boards on both sides of the ball, gathering 61 total rebounds, compared to Minnesota’s 39 rebounds. The Warriors kept Minnesota off the offensive glass, something the Timberwolves have been very good at this season.
  • No matter how much you like or dislike the Warriors, they are super fun to watch. The Warriors move the ball like no other team in the NBA. When the Warriors are having fun and flying the ball around the court, there isn’t quite anything that compares in terms of pure ball movement.

10/29 Lakers @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Timberwolves and Lakers

Final Score: Timberwolves: 124, Lakers: 120

Timberwolves:

  • It was a much better night for the Timberwolves after a putrid showing last Friday night against the Bucks. Minnesota’s offense was firing on all cylinders. The defense was a different story, but the offense was enough against the Lakers.
  • Butler was on fire in the four quarter. Butler paved the way for Minnesota in the fourth, including his ridiculous, clutch three to seal the win. Overall, Jimmy recorded 32 points on 12-20 shooting from the field, including 6-7 from three. While it’s clear the Wolves need to trade Butler, it would be nice if Butler continues to help Minnesota get wins until then.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns plays his most active game of the season. KAT put up 25 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Towns was active on both ends of the floor, which included Towns grabbing nine offensive rebounds.
  • I continue to not understand Derrick Rose. Unfortunately, Thibs still thinks Rose is the former MVP, so when Rose struggles, Thibs leaves him in the game. Rose shot 4-16 from the field tonight in 29 minutes. Rose continues to be an up-and-down player for the Wolves, but he continues to get heavy minutes.
  • The Timberwolves dominated points at the charity stripe. Minnesota recorded 26 points at the line, compared to Los Angeles’ 10. For the Lakers, it’s hard to win games with that big of a disparity at the free-throw line.

Lakers:

  • The Lakers continue to play fast, really fast. Coming into the night, the Lakers played with the fourth fastest pace in the league. Contrary to LeBron’s normal pace of play, the Lakers continue to run with the ball. If the Lakers can tighten up on defense, their offense can lead them to great heights.
  • JaVale McGee is turning into a valuable player for Los Angeles. McGee has been great at running the floor and protecting the paint this season, and that continued tonight. McGee put up 13 points and blocked three shots in tonight’s game. If McGee continues to do the small things to help the Lakers win, he will continue to see more and more minutes.
  • Lonzo Ball had a rough night. Ball was a team worst -11 tonight, and he shot 0-4 from three. Ball has improved this season, but his four points and one assist tonight was not one of his best games.
  • The Lakers can’t afford to drop too many more games in a row to start the season. Los Angeles is off to a 2-5 start to the season, and in a brutally tough Western Conference, there isn’t a lot of breathing room. The Lakers will look to get back on track against the Dallas Mavericks on Halloween night.

 

10/26 Bucks @ Timberwolves Rapid Reactions

Bucks and Timberwolves

Final Score: Bucks: 125, Timberwolves: 95

Timberwolves:

  • What a brutal showing. This isn’t the way Minnesota wanted to play in front of a solid Target Center showing on a Friday night. There is so much going on around the team, that everyone is starting to wonder how long the drama can go on. While the players are expected to be professionals, there is little doubt the drama is bothering the team and carrying over into their performances.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns had a brutal first half, performed better in the third quarter. Towns finished the first half with two points. Yes, you heard that right. The All-NBA Center had just two points at half. He was getting shots, but not hitting them. Fortunately, Towns had a terrific third quarter. KAT recorded 14 points in the third quarter, on 6-8 shooting in that frame. With tonight’s 16-point showing, Towns is now averaging just 16.3 points per game. That number is a cause for concern. Maybe it’s a matter of time before he heats up, or maybe the Butler situation is taking a toll on the big man, but things need to change.
  • Timberwolves go cold from three. After shooting 50% from three in Toronto on Wednesday, the Timberwolves were 10-43 (23.3%) from three tonight. It’s good to see Minnesota taking more threes, but they were not hitting the shots tonight, so it would’ve been nice to see Minnesota attack the basket more.
  • Minnesota has a big night on the offensive boards. One slight positive from tonight’s game was Minnesota’s effort on the offensive glass. Minnesota grabbed 17 offensive rebounds in the game, turning those rebounds into second chance points. While Minnesota has struggled grabbing defensive rebounds at times this season, the Wolves have been terrific crashing the offensive glass.
  • How long can the Jimmy Butler saga continue? Tonight’s effort was pathetic, and it won’t be getting any easier for Minnesota. Sitting at 2-4 with their next six games against the Lakers, Jazz, Warriors, Blazers, Clippers, and Lakers again, the Timberwolves have no easy upcoming contests.

Bucks:

  • Milwaukee was about as hot as a team can get from three. The Bucks shot 19-46 (41.3%) from deep. Middleton led the way making four threes with Henson and Lopez each connecting on three shots from deep.
  • Mike Budenholzer is the right coach for this group. The Bucks have started the season 5-0 and look primed for success this year. In a game where Giannis was held under 20 points, the Bucks handled Minnesota easily. If the Bucks continue to get support around Giannis, they will be in the thick of things in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
  • Donte DiVincenzo knows how to play. DiVincenzo won’t always make his presence felt in the box score, but the rookie understands the game. DiVincenzo made a number of hustle plays tonight and recorded nine points. For DiVincenzo, he has the chance to develop into a great role player for Milwaukee this season.
  • The Bucks shared and moved the basketball. Milwaukee recorded 32 assists on their 49 made field goals. Compared to the Wolves’ 19 assists on their 36 made field goals, Milwaukee moved the ball and found the open shooter in Minnesota.

How four 1st round picks would look in Minnesota

(photo cred YouTube)

I am sure many sports bloggers are going to make some joke about Woj bombs and the actual pipe bombs sent to prominent Democrats lately.

I, however, have some common sense and will not be one of those people.

But, I will still give some really quick-hitting points about the latest offer by the Houston Rockets to acquire Jimmy Butler. Check out what Woj tweeted:

How would this work? Isn’t there a rule about how many first round picks you can send in consecutive years. All good questions. First of all, The Stepien Rule prohibits teams from shipping off first round picks in consecutive years. That is hurdle number one, but Houston can jump over it.

Secondly, the picks have to abide by the Seven Year Rule stipulation. Bobby Marks of ESPN did a better job of explaining this than I could do. So, I will let him do the talking (writing) here.

The map is clear. Houston would most likely be sending over a package that included the 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025 first round picks. My question: How do these picks align with the development of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. Both players are locked up for the foreseeable future, as both former number one overall picks have either signed or agreed upon 5-year extensions.

Time for a chart

Andrew Wiggins           Age: 23                                      Karl-Anthony Towns              Age: 22

2019 pick                        Age: 24                                      2019 pick                                   Age: 23

2021 pick                        Age: 26                                      2021 pick                                   Age: 25

2023 pick                        Age: 28                                      2023 pick                                   Age: 27

2025 pick                        Age: 30                                      2025 pick                                   Age: 29

Time for a recap

When is a star considered to be in their prime? There is no true science to answer this question, although ages 25-30 seem to sound right. Sure, a player can perform well after and before that age (see James, LeBron.)

The question for Minnesota management (and fans, of course I have to shoutout armchair GMs!) is simple. Do these picks meet their team timeline?

Let us assume that the 2019 pick is some 19-year-old kid from UConn (duh, go Huskies.) in 2023, this kid would be close to or if not directly entering his prime at age 23. Wiggins would be in the last year of his contract, but entrenched in his peak star years, at least we hope. The same would go for KAT, except he would have more contract years remaining. This could be promising and something of a replication of what the Boston Celtics have tried to do.

Yet, the later picks will probably bring in draft picks that are better prospects, but less aligned with the team trajectory due to their presumably young age. Logically, the 2023 and 2025 Houston picks should be better than their 2019 and 2021 ones. Those years reflect a post-CP3 age and Harden will be starting the back 9 of his career, although probably still awesome.

Time for a question

It is a conundrum, isn’t it?

The later picks do not totally mesh well with the team’s timeline for its current studs. Yet, those 2023 and 2025 picks could be excellent. The 2019 and 2021 picks do mesh well with the rise of these two stars, but those picks could be late first rounders, which are often throws at the dart board. Decisions, decisions.

Of course, the personnel in this alleged deal matters as well. But, the picks are what is sexy here. So, what do you do if you are the general manager of the Minnesota Timberwolves?