The Jimmy Butler era is over for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who shipped the All-Star swingman to the Philadelphia 76ers in a multi-player deal, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Minnesota has agreed to a deal to send Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia for a package that includes Robert Covington and Dario Saric, league sources tell @ZachLowe_NBA and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) November 10, 2018
In the trade, the Wolves will reportedly receive Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round pick while the 76ers will get Butler.
Wojnarowski and Lowe add that Philadelphia will be interested in giving Butler a long-term contract:
The Sixers and Butler, 29, have every intention on formalizing a long-term agreement this summer, sources said, but nothing is allowed to be negotiated or agreed upon now.
Days before the Timberwolves opened training camp, Butler made his trade request known. His initial list of preferred destinations included the Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers and New York Knicks, with the Houston Rockets and Miami Heat entering the mix days later. He was ultimately dealt to Philadelphia, where he will play alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
To date, the 76ers are 8-5 this season, sitting in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference.
Following a fifth straight loss, Tom Thibodeau and the Wolves decided the team could no longer function with Butler around:
Minnesota president and coach Tom Thibodeau decided late Friday night after a fifth straight loss that the team could no longer function with Butler as a part of it, sources said.
Butler had been absent for most of training camp and the preseason after he requested a trade from the team in September. He played and started in the Wolves’ season-opener on Wednesday, scoring 23 points in 31 minutes as Minnesota lost to San Antonio. He returned to the team in early October for a contentious practice where he reportedly called out his coaches, teammates and the front office. After the practice, Butler spoke with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to explain his actions.
Prior to his trade to the 76ers, Bulter and Wolves owner Glen Taylor met and reached an agreement. The gist of the pact was that Butler would continue to play for Minnesota while Taylor and the Wolves’ front office would seek trades for him. “He will be a regular team player. What I said to him in the meantime is our GM, Scott Layden, will be talking to other teams to see if there is a trade that works,” Taylor told the Star Tribune recently.
After one of the Wolves’ final practices before the start of the season, Butler voiced his desire to provide a full effort for Minnesota for as long as he was on its roster.
“They want me to go out here and hoop to the best of my abilities,” Butler said. “Make sure I’m healthy, compete, because that’s what I love to do, and do it for the guys in the same jerseys as me.”
The Timberwolves reportedly were close to trading Butler to the Miami Heat in early October, but the talks reportedly broke down at the last minute. Miami was most frequently mentioned as a suitor for Butler, who made it clear to Timberwolves management that he preferred to be dealt before finishing out the final year of his contract. In many of those Heat-Wolves trade scenarios bandied about, Miami guard Josh Richardson saw his name come up several times.
Butler, a four-time All-Star, averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals in 59 games for the Timberwolves last season. He had a minor procedure done on his right hand in July after meniscus surgery on his right knee in February, an injury that kept him out for 21 games in 2017-18.
Butler holds a player option on his contract next season, but it is widely expected he will opt out and join a 2019 free-agent market that many expect to be robust. Minnesota’s All-Star big man, Karl-Anthony Towns, was entering the final year of his contract in 2018-19 as well. But he signed an extension with the Wolves shortly after training camp opened, securing his place in Minnesota for years to come.
In early July, Butler reportedly turned down Minnesota’s four-year extension worth approximately $110 million.
Reports circulated in the offseason that Butler was frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Next season, Wiggins will begin playing on his maximum contract in 2018-19, with a $25 million-plus salary that will account for more than 20 percent of the team’s cap and push the Timberwolves close to the luxury tax threshold.
The Timberwolves acquired Butler from Chicago in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen during the 2017 offseason. The former 30th overall pick helped propel the young Timberwolves to a 47-35 season while earning his fourth consecutive All-Star berth. The Wolves made the playoffs, ending a 14-year drought for the franchise, but they lost 4-1 to the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the first round.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.