The summer of 2017 will remain in the minds of many NBA fans for various reasons, whether it’s because of the Kyrie Irving trade to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Paul George going to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets after a long stint for the Clippers or, if you are a Minnesota Timberwolves fan, the Jimmy Butler trade.
On the night of the 2017 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls received 22-year-old Zach Lavine, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, Kris Dunn, and the 10th pick of the same year, which turned out to be current All-Star Lauri Markkanen, for Jimmy Butler, who had three All-Star and All-Defensive selections, having made one All-NBA third team in his six-year career.
In his first season with the number 23 for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Butler averaged a team-high 22.2 points per game, on very efficient shooting splits, while also carrying the squad to their first playoff berth since 2004. The starting lineup consisted of Jeff Teague, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, and Karl-Anthony Towns. But the group only managed to win one game in the first-round series against a stacked Houston Rockets squad, a team that would end up in the Conference Finals.
The Butler did it
During the 2018 offseason, rumors started to appear of Jimmy’s unhappiness in Minnesota, which proved to be right after the infamous practice session where Butler claimed to have beaten the starting lineup in a scrimmage, while teaming up with the third-stringers of the team and shouting at every single soul in the facility, including coach Tom Thibodeau and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
After this incident, it didn’t take much until the Timberwolves’ front office decided to move on from Butler, trading him after one full season with the franchise, where he would end up playing for a total of 75 games. He got shipped to the Philadelphia 76ers, who sent Robert Covington, Dario Šarić, and Jerryd Bayless to Minnesota. Jimmy went on to finish the season in Philly, being sent home after the infamous Kawhi Leonard shot in Game 7 in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs.
At the end of the season, the Philadelphia 76ers had to make a choice between the seasoned veteran Jimmy Butler, or the young Ben Simmons, to build around. The 76ers chose Simmons, and Butler packed his bags once more, signing on with the Miami Heat.
What about the Minnesota Timberwolves?
As for the rest of the package, forward Robert Covington was the only one who survived for more than one season on the Wolves roster, with Dario Šarić being paired with the 11th pick (who ended up being Cameron Johnson) in a trade with the Phoenix Suns for the 6th overall pick in the 2019 draft, Jarret Culver. Culver, who was a hot prospect out of Texas Tech University, didn’t pan out as expected and ended up on a Memphis Grizzlies jersey after a season and a half, with the Timberwolves receiving the very popular veteran guard Patrick Beverley in return.
Although he was the longest-tenured member of the Butler trade, Covington was traded mid-season in 2020, in a four-team trade involving the Houston Rockets, Atlanta Hawks, and Denver Nuggets. In that trade, the Timberwolves received Malik Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Juancho Hernangomez, Evan Turner, and the 2020 first-round pick
Hernangomez was part of the package added to Jarret Culver to the Memphis Grizzlies. The 2020 Round 1 pick would end up being Aleksej Pokusevski, who was also eventually traded to the Thunder, for guard Ricky Rubio and current defensive superstar, Jaden McDaniels, in a deal that also sent Immanuel Quickley to the New York Knicks.
Timberwolves discard and redeal in the NBA Trade market.
The Spanish legend, Ricky Rubio, saw his second time with the team shortened after one full season, being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Taurean Prince and a 2022 2nd-round pick, who turned out to be Bryce McGowens, who was then also shipped to Charlotte for the draft rights of Josh Minott.
Getting to more recent times, Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt had a bit of a decent stint with the Timberwolves, getting the team back to the NBA Playoffs after the iconic Play-In game against the LA Clippers, just to be bounced by Memphis after six games. In the 2022 offseason, the trio remained together, just in a different team, after a blockbuster trade that still enrages some Wolves’ fans, getting Rudy Gobert in return, after also adding in four first-round picks.
As we can see, five years down the line after Jimmy Butler’s departure from the Twin Cities, we did not gain much directly from trades, however, due to the constant roster renovations in the 2019-20 season, the draft lottery did us a favor and gave us two first-round picks in the 2020 Draft (1st and 28th). In the revolving door of players in and players out, the team ended up with a very promising future.
After all, the Minnesota Timberwolves now boast both SG Anthony Edwards and the defensive prowess of SF Jaden McDaniels.