In a stunning turn of events, superstar swingman Jimmy Butler has been acquired by the Philadelphia 76ers. The blockbuster deal involves Dario Sario, Robert Covington, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second round pick being dealt in exchange for the disgruntled Butler and 2016 first round draft pick Justin Patton.
Losing homegrown talents Dario “The Homie” Saric and Robert Covington is certainly a tough pill to swallow and an even tougher reality to come to terms with, but this was a move the Sixers simply had to make in order to be amongst the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference for years to come. Heck, this move may have been necessary just to compete in the Atlantic division, with the emergence of superstars Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, and Gordon Hayward. Covington and Saric will certainly be missed and will always be well received in their future bouts with Philly, but ultimately trading for the talented Butler gives the Sixers a legitimate shot at a title, as opposed to a courtesy invite to the Annual Golden State Warriors Invitational.
Butler is legitimately a top three shooting guard in the entire NBA and should be a handful when paired with budding superstars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Here’s a bit from a piece I wrote in September when the T-Wolves interest in trading Butler first surfaced:
Dealing for Butler is something the Sixers simply have 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.
Starting Jimmy Butler next to Fultz, 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.
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.
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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.
So, after acquiring lockdown defender Jimmy Butler and ending one of the most bizarre NBA holdout/trade disputes, the Sixers find themselves with much loftier season expectations than they had 24 hours ago. With a Big 3 to call their own in the City of Brotherly Love, the Sixers are all-in on winning an NBA championship in the near future. The rebuilding process has been an incredibly tumultuous ride- filled with an abnormal amount of player and front office turnover, losing, injuries, and even burner accounts (plural!)- but after a long stretch of being the doormat of the league, the Sixers are coming for the crown.
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that the length, athleticism, defensive prowess, and basketball i.q of Butler, Embiid, Simmons, and Fultz can’t form one of the most lethal defensive units in league history. Both Butler and Simmons currently rank in the Top 20 in steals per game and total steals on the season- the newly-acquired Butler ranking top 5 in both metrics. Embiid, as is common knowledge by now, is an elite rim protecting defensive anchor and when teamed with the promising defender and former first overall selection should induce nightmares to opposing offenses. Butler is a 4x All-Defensive player and has studied one of the more highly regarded defensive schemes under Tom Thibodeau for almost the entirety of his NBA career. His wealth of defensive tips and techniques should do wonders for the young Sixers squad and his defensive tenacity on the court should be contagious and lead to a higher total in the win column.
On the other side of the ball, Butler’s scoring ability allows Simmons and Fultz to facilitate more, which fits their natural skill set a lot better. Where his scoring will really pay dividends, however, is in the playoffs. The Sixers didn’t enjoy the most productive playoff run last season, in large part due to their lack of experience and a consistent go-to scorer aside from Embiid. The acquisition of Butler kills two birds with one stone as he’s only missed the playoffs once in his career and has proven that the bright lights of the NBA Playoffs aren’t too bright for the Texas native.
The star hunting wasn’t supposed to carry into the winter season, but kudos to freshly-minted General Manager Elton Brand and the Sixers brass for refusing to go home empty-handed and landing the biggest fish in the trade market. Brand also managed to swing a deal for the 4x All-Star without trading a first-round draft pick, keeping the door open for another potential big move- impressive stuff from the rookie GM. As a result, the Sixers are a legitimate title threat for the first time since the Allen Iverson era and will use the remaining regular season to incorporate their secret weapon and formulate a plan to snatch the NBA title from the unrelenting grip of the Warriors.
The best is still ahead for this talented Sixers team, but man, the league is in some serious trouble as of right now. At long last, Jimmy Butler is a Sixer and there is going to be a whole lot more bell ringing in Philadelphia. Buckle in everyone, Here They Come.
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports