Unfinished Business: Sixers should be back in the (Star) Hunt for Jimmy Butler

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Earlier in the week, Shams Charania of the Athletic reported that All-Star Jimmy Butler requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Less than an hour later, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski shed a bit more light on the situation, listing the Nets, Clippers, and Knicks as Butler’s top three preferred destinations.

The news- albeit not all that surprising given the reported conflict between the All-NBA wingman and the Timberwolves franchise- sent shockwaves around the league. A potential deal including a player of Butler’s caliber could affect the landscape of the NBA, and if he was available, teams were sure to come in droves with drafted trade proposals in hand.

Acquiring the defensive standout would prove difficult, however, as Minnesota’s brass initially had no interest of granting their disgruntled star’s demands. ​Initially.​ A few short days of trade-related chaos later and not only are the T-Wolves willing to deal Butler, but it is expected to happen within the coming days:

Quite the 180 degree turn from how things were trending earlier this week. Nevertheless, Jimmy Butler is available for trade, and it’s time for the Sixers to dust themselves off and try their hand at the star hunting industry again.

The Philly-based franchise recently stabilized their General Manager position with the hire of former #1 overall pick Elton Brand. The freshly-minted GM may be fairly new to his role in the front office, but he is a highly respected veteran around the league that should be able to throw his weight around a bit in trade negotiations. He’s an incredibly honest and cooperative person who served as a player mentor towards the end of his playing career, and one with a vision for this young Sixers franchise. Brand seems hungry for this team to compete and even spoke of potentially adding a premier talent via trade. In a recent tv interview on ESPN’s The Jump, Brand expressed that he thought the team “needs another piece” when asked if the Sixers have enough to compete right now. This coincides with what he said earlier in the interview when he proclaimed the team may have to pull the trigger on a trade instead of waiting to add a superstar in free agency.

It’s great to see that Brand understands the value of bringing a player in via trade and building a relationship with them for months, as opposed to simply being one of several free agent pitches to a player. His understanding of this so early in his tenure should be an encouraging sign of things to come. Brand could make an even bigger impression early in his tenure as Sixers GM by bringing Jimmy Butler to the City of Brotherly Love.

Despite not being atop Butler’s reported top three destinations, the Sixers make a ton of sense as a potential trade partner with Minnesota and should pursue the All-Star shooting guard heavily. Brand and Co. seem to agree with this sentiment, as they were listed as potential suitors for Butler’s services:

Dealing for Butler is something the team simply has to pursue if they want to keep up with the Boston Celtics at top of the East over the new few years. After whiffing on Paul George, LeBron James, and Kawhi Leonard this offseason, the Sixers front office must move quickly and efficiently in order to avoid striking out for the fourth time. This isn’t simply chasing a big name either, as Butler would make them Finals contenders this season. Here’s a quick list of reasons this should be a no-brainer for the Sixers’ brass:

 

On-Court Production
Starting Jimmy Butler next to Fultz, Covington, Simmons, and Embiid would create one of the best defensive units in league history and would wreak absolute havoc on the barren Eastern conference. Butler is also a proficient scorer, averaging 20+ points in each of the past four seasons. His scoring would help alleviate the pressure and workload of the young Sixers stars immensely as they prepare to make a deep playoff run. Speaking of young Sixers…

 

Leadership
Butler is well-known amongst his peers for his tenacity and extreme work ethic. He doesn’t take a single day off as he prepares his body for the war of an NBA season, and demands the same from his teammates. This attitude may not go over too well with some teams, but I think he’d be a perfect fit in the Sixers young locker room. The team is hungry to do better and Butler can use his demonstrative leadership style to propel them to the next level.

 

Big Market
With Los Angeles, New York, and Brooklyn headlining Butler’s preferred destinations, it appears as though Butler desires the allure of a big sports market after going fairly unnoticed in Minnesota. Philly has plenty to offer in that department, fortunately, with the reigning Super Bowl Champs and other improving franchises in town. In Philly, Butler would have the chance to build his marketability alongside generational talents Embiid and Simmons, while living just hours away from business cities New York and Brooklyn whom he cherishes. That’s what we around the office like to call a win-win situation.

Free Agency Frenzies
As Brand highlighted in his tv spot, free agency is not a guaranteed thing. Although it’s easy to envision a winning team with salary cap flexibility signing a superstar or two, it doesn’t always play out that way, as evidenced by this offseason.

Making a trade for Butler puts the Sixers in position to win a championship this season, thus enhancing their chances of landing a big fish in free agency if they are unable to retain Butler. Free agents like to go to championship contending teams- it’s not rocket science. With the hierarchy of their franchise sorted out, two generational talents already rostered, and the bankroll for a splashy move, it’s time for the Sixers to build a basketball dynasty in the City of Brotherly Love, and I believe that dynasty could start with the acquisition of Jimmy Butler.

 

Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

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