Had the Minnesota Timberwolves traded treasure for Patrick Beverley, they would have been justified.

That the Timberwolves acquired Beverley for a failed draft pick and a back-of-the-rotation player unhappy with the organization makes Beverley's acquisition one of the great steals in modern Minnesota sports history.

Beverley is who Jimmy Butler was supposed to be.

He is a better fit than Butler ever was.

When running the Wolves, Tom Thibodeau properly diagnosed the team's problems, then came up with an unwise solution: Trading Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick in the draft for Butler and Justin Patton.

That deal made the Wolves better for one season but was destined to fail long-term because Thibodeau wrongly assumed that Butler was joining him for the long run in Minnesota.

Butler was expensive in terms of salary. He was expensive in terms of trade equity. And he decided that his brand of leadership would be embarrassing and deriding those around him, instead of trying to make them better.

Beverley, unlike Butler, is not a star, which makes what he is accomplishing in Minnesota even more remarkable.

When Beverley starts alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, D'Angelo Russell and Jarred Vanderbilt, the Wolves are 9-2.

Beverley has been an ideal leader. He's supportive of coach Chris Finch, plays and cheers his teammates with high energy, prides himself on playing defense and making hustle plays, and loves the most challenging aspects of the NBA game: taking on talented scorers, making big shots, and playing hard even on those nights when self-motivation is the only possible form of motivation.

He leads by example and speaks with the vocabulary of a winner.

Former Timberwolves president Gersson Rosas acquired Beverley for guard Jarrett Culver and forward Juancho Hernangomez.

Culver is playing fewer minutes for the team that traded for him, Memphis, than he did in either of his two seasons with the Timberwolves. He averaged 20.7 minutes per game in Minnesota; he is averaging 10.6 minutes for the Grizzlies.

When recovering from a shoulder injury, Hernangomez was ordered last summer by the Wolves not to play for the Spanish national team in the Tokyo Olympics. That made Hernangomez's departure a certainty, but he wasn't much of a loss.

With the Wolves, he played 19.9 minutes per game. With the Celtics, he is averaging 5.5 minutes per game.

For two players who were essentially on extended tryouts with the Wolves, Rosas acquired exactly what the Wolves needed: a veteran leader, motivator, defender and competitor who wants to get the best out of the team's most talented players.

This is a reminder that the most wizardly trades often are unimpressive at the time they are consummated.

Consider the history of Timberwolves' trades. Their best deal was sending O.J. Mayo to Memphis for Kevin Love during the 2008 draft. But that wasn't a trade of NBA veterans, so it doesn't belong in the same category as the Beverley deal.

They also traded Love for Andrew Wiggins, dealing one of the best players in franchise history for a talented youngster unwisely cast as a savior in Minnesota.

Before acquiring Beverley, the Wolves' best trade for an established veteran came when they acquired Sam Cassell and Ervin Johnson for Anthony Peeler and Joe Smith.

Cassell, like Butler, was great for one year. He also ruined the Wolves' only chance at a championship by injuring himself during a celebration during the Western Conference Finals, then spent the next season pouting about his contract and getting coach Flip Saunders fired.

Perhaps never before in franchise history have the Wolves made a deal so precisely perfect for their needs without mortgaging or damaging their future.

Beverley is 33. He is making $14.3 million this year. He sounds as if he would like to stay with the Wolves.

Trading for Beverley is one of the best things this franchise has ever done.

Signing him to a long-term extension would rank among the smartest.