The Timberwolves agreed to trade Jimmy Butler to Philadelphia on Saturday, ending nearly two months of drama.
An immediate question in the aftermath: Did the Wolves — in agreeing to deal Butler and 2017 first round pick Justin Patton to Philadelphia in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick — get good value?
Well, let’s first take a look at the players the Wolves got in return:
• Robert Covington: He’s a small forward with good size (6-9) who shoots the three-pointer well (35.9 percent for his career) and plays strong defense. He’s also under contract for three years beyond this season at a rate that’s reasonable by NBA standards (about $12 million per season). Covington, who might be the best undrafted player in the NBA right now, started 80 games for Philadelphia last season as the 76ers won 52 games and reached the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. He turns 28 next month.
• Dario Saric: The 24-year-old former lottery pick is a modern NBA “stretch four” — a power forward who has the ability to shoot from long range, which his 39.3 percent accuracy on three pointers last season for Philadelphia will attest. He averaged 14.6 points and 6.7 rebounds a year ago, appearing in 78 games with 73 starts. Saric was the No. 12 pick in the 2014 NBA draft, but he didn’t arrive in the league until two years later. He’s in the third year of a four-year rookie scale deal, paying him $2.5 million this year and $3.4 million next year.
• Jerryd Bayless: The 30-year-old guard injured his knee before the season started and has yet to appear in a game this year. Bayless has some value as a shooter when healthy, but more than likely he was included in the trade to help make salaries match. He’s in the final year of his contract and is making $8.5 million this season.
Would the Wolves have been better off making a deal with Miami last month that reportedly included Josh Richardson (a 25-year-old guard with a friendly contract off to a hot start this year) and a first-round draft pick? Possibly.
Would the proposed deal from Houston involving four future first-round picks have been better for the long run? Possibly.
But the Wolves did get two useful starting-caliber players from a playoff team a year ago and a draft pick (albeit a second-rounder).
The 76ers undoubtedly got the best player (Butler), and it’s possible the Wolves were losing leverage and had to take a less-than-desired deal. Given the fact that Patton was included as well — he was chosen No. 16 overall in 2017 with the pick acquired in the Butler trade with Chicago — the final tally is this:
Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen for Covington, Saric, Bayless, a second-round pick and one year of Butler (and the end of a playoff drought).