The Philadelphia 76ers haven’t looked like one of the Eastern Conference’s top teams to this point of the season, particularly when facing other squads expected to be contenders in the conference. Double-digit losses to Boston, Toronto, and Milwaukee have shown there is an apparent gap between the Sixers and those teams, and on Saturday, they decided to do something about it.
The Sixers traded Robert Covington, Dario Saric, and a 2022 second-round pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton, making a major swing at bringing in a third star that can elevate them to legitimate contender status this season and beyond — the two sides are reportedly expecting to agree to an extension this summer. The Wolves reset their timeline to be more in line with their two young stars and finally removed the Butler headache, but this trade is, chiefly, about the Sixers.
Adding Butler shows that the Philadelphia front office felt the team was not equipped to be a threat this season as constructed. There’s no doubt that Butler makes them better, but there are some questions about Philly’s depth as a result of this deal. Saric was off to a miserable start to the season, boasting one of the Sixers’ worst net ratings, but he was a key contributor a year ago, and when he’s right, he was a great frontcourt complement to Joel Embiid offensively. The bigger question is how they’ll adjust their wing rotation without Covington, who is their best wing defender and is a quality (albeit streaky) three-point shooter.