So Jimmy Butler is now a Philadelphia 76er. There is now a “Big 3” in Philly. What does that mean for the rest of the eastern conference? Simple, total chaos. With the 76ers now equipped with its version of a three-headed monster, all other conference contenders must take notice. These are possible consequences to the blockbuster Butler trade.
Jimmy Butler’s Trade Saga Creates Consequences
Quick Recap of the Trade
Minnesota has traded Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton to Philadelphia for Robert, Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round draft pick, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) November 10, 2018
The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton to the Philadelphia 76ers Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a future second-round pick. Patton is an injured seven-foot center who has endured back to back season-ending foot surgeries. Covington is the typical NBA 3 and D wing player. It must also be noted that last season Covington was awarded All-Defensive First team honors. Saric is a stretch power forward. While Butler is the star of the trade the Timberwolves didn’t walk away empty-handed.
What Must Philadelphia do Next?
While Butler is a highly skilled and valuable player, the loss of Covington and Saric further highlights the 76ers need for three-point shooters. To this end, there are a few possibilities. Cleveland Cavaliers veteran sniper Kyle Korver is an obvious option. According to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Korver signed a three-year deal with the Cavaliers with a caveat: “If LeBron [James] were to leave, the Cavs would either trade Korver or buy him out of the deal so he could move his family to his next team during the summer.” So upon James’ move to Los Angeles Kovrver requested a trade that’s been denied thus far. Things have only gotten worse for the Cavaliers since and they currently possess the worse win-loss record in the NBA.
What Happens Next for Toronto?
Remember, it was the Toronto Raptors who effectively started this transaction-reaction. This started with the trade for All-NBA wing Kawhi Leonard. Now that Leonard is back at close to full fitness, the Raptors have been spectacular. The promotion of Nick Nurse to head coach also appears to pay early dividends as the Raptors have shown potency and creativity on both ends of the court. Point guard Kyle Lowry currently lead the league in assists with 11 per game.
There has also been a resurgence for the power forward Serge Ibaka. Nurse’s decision to switch Ibaka to play center paid off almost immediately. Ibaka’s play harkens back to days of old when he was a crucial member of another ‘Big 3’ in Oklahoma City. Currently, Ibaka enjoys career numbers in points per game (17.2), field goal percentage (.584), effective field goal percentage (.612) and 2 point percentage (.649).
Toronto also boasts of blossoming young talent. Players like Pascal Siakam (currently leads the league in 2 point percentage), OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet provide the Raptors with the necessary depth for an extended playoff run. Also, Number 23 no longer plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Milwaukee, It’s Your Move
The Milwaukee Bucks may have been affected the most by this blockbuster trade. As the season started the Bucks showed that they meant business, racing out to a 7-0 record. This all came to a head when the Bucks traveled to Oracle Arena and defeated the defending champion Golden State Warriors on its home court. The Bucks will surprise no one with their excellent play this season. So what must they do to consolidate their position as contenders? Simple, get Giannis Antetokounmpo some consistent help.
While the arrival of new head coach Mike Budenholzer meant the Bucks now play a modern brand of basketball, a team is only as good as its personnel. It is blatantly obvious that Antetokounmpo is the team’s primary, secondary and most times tertiary offensive creator. Point guard Eric Bledsoe has not shown the ability to consistently create without Antetokounmpo. To this end, a good place to look for help in this department is the Charlotte Hornets. Kemba Walker fits the needs of the Bucks perfectly. Walker is in the midst of another great season with career-best averages in points, assists, and rebounds. Potentially this is a win-win scenario for both teams. A straight up swap of point guards and Milwaukee sending a second round pick to Charlotte is possible and plausible.
This move gives Milwaukee its version of a “Big 3” led by Antetokounmpo and includes Walker and underappreciated wing Khris Middleton. Remember Middleton averaged 20 points per game last season while shooting 36 percent from downtown.
Boston Needs to Make the Biggest Splash
It’s that time again. This is where all of the NBA fans, pundits, coaches, scouts, and bystanders look at the assets the Boston Celtics possess. While general manager Danny Ainge has been judicious with his asset management he’ll be the first to admit that something’s got to give. The Celtics led by head coach Brad Stevens are off to an inconsistent start this season. This is largely due to the re-integration of Gordon Hayward (who played a part of just 1 game last season) and Kyrie Irving (who missed the latter portion of the regular season and all of the playoffs). While this Celtics team boast a plethora of young talent like Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier, and Semi Ojeleye, there is no clear cut superstar.
Read carefully: The Boston Celtics need to trade for Anthony Davis right now. Yes, All-NBA stud Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans. Even former NBA Commissioner David Stern said this of Pelicans general manager Dell Demps, “But Dell Demps is a lousy general manager and none of those players are currently with the team anymore, and he may lose Anthony Davis.” If this isn’t an invitation for Ainge to act now, nothing is. At his disposal, Ainge has the aforementioned young talent, star level talent (if he chooses) and future first round picks.
While having a team that plays 10 deep works well in the regular season, coaches usually tighten their playing rotation to their best seven or eight players. To this end, the team with the top players usually emerge victorious in a playoff series. So while the Celtics are possibly the deepest team in the east, they do not have the best player in the conference. Acquiring Davis changes that immediately. Ainge is a ruthless businessman and competitor. However, Ainge is also a bit of a miser and loves the concept of hoarding draft assets. Something has to give.
Outsiders Rising Up
While the top teams in the Eastern Conference continue to justle for head position, one can’t overlook the other ambitious teams with front office masters. The Miami Heat led by Pat Riley aka ‘the Godfather’ is always in the hunt. Recently, the Heat were linked to a deal with the Timberwolves for Butler. Though that deal obviously fell through, this won’t stop Riley and his team from ‘whale hunting’. Another team worth mentioning is the Indiana Pacers. Led by front office maestro Kevin Pritchard, the Pacers are a confident, competent organization. Remember the Paul George trade? It’s safe to say the Pacers at least broke even, if not won that trade outright.
What’s Happening in Washington?
Presently the Washington Wizards is a chemistry experiment gone awry, or better still, a dumpster fire. General manager Ernie Grunfeld and the front office thought it best to add Dwight Howard and (trade for) Austin Rivers to an otherwise volatile environment. This is obviously an attempt to send coach Scott Brooks off the deep end. The Wizards previously had friction in its locker room notably between All-Star guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. Predictably, the Wizards possess the second worse record in the Eastern Conference. A fire sale may very well be on the horizon in the nation’s capital.
The East is on Notice
Finally, this move by the 76ers placed all teams on notice. There will be repercussions. Keep a lookout for them. The ambitious contending teams are expected to make further moves.
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