It was nearly midnight inside the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento on Friday, and Minnesota Timberwolves general manager Scott Layden was the only one in the crowded room still working. … It was time to put the Jimmy Butler saga out to pasture. I had no clue at the time that the Timberwolves had reached their breaking point. Layden was clearly focused on his conversation, and so I waved from a distance and offered a thumbs up as a way of saying hello in the most placid way possible. To my surprise, Layden — who had spent these past two months giving thumbs downs to every trade offer that came their way — offered a thumbs up in return. Little did I know: The T-Wolves were finally going to say yes.
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According to a league source, the talks with Philadelphia were rekindled on Wednesday. The Sixers, who had announced Elton Brand as their new general manager on the same Sept. 18 day that Butler’s trade demand went public, put forth a take-it-or-leave-it style offer and waited for an answer. According to our Jon Krawczynski, Minnesota was deliberating between three offers. Houston was known to be among the most aggressive suitors, but sources say the Rockets would ultimately be convinced that Minnesota had been hell-bent on sending Butler to the Eastern Conference all along. It’s unclear if Miami was still in play or if there was another team involved at the end.
Serena Winters: Ben Simmons says he “can’t wait” for Jimmy Butler to get here. “He’s going to fit in with us.” #sixers
Serena Winters: Ben Simmons said he even talked with Jimmy Butler today for a little bit and he said he just wants to win. “That’s the mindset we all have here, so we’re exited to get Jimmy here.”
Serena Winters: “Between me, Jo & Jimmy, we all have that similar mindset of, we hate losing, that pisses us off and we want to win.” #sixers – Ben Simmons on Jimmy Butler
Omari Sanfoka II: Brett Brown declines on speaking on the trade for Jimmy Butler. Doesn’t know who’ll start in place of Robert Covington and Dario Saric. Wilson Chandler is out. pic.twitter.com/CSA2zY0784
Once the Wolves finally came to the conclusion that a deal had to be made, owner Glen Taylor spoke personally with Sixers owner Josh Harris to push it through, sources said. The Wolves were in a difficult position from a bargaining perspective given all of the negativity, and losing, that had enveloped the franchise. The Wolves were eyeing three offers from different teams, but made the decision on Saturday to go forward with Philly’s package, sources said.
Shortly after that meeting, Butler had a conversation with Taylor to get the ball rolling on an exit strategy. Taylor was more open to the idea than Thibodeau was initially and promised to pursue all avenues to grant his request, sources said. The owner told Thibodeau and Layden on Sept. 22 to be proactive in seeking out possibilities to bring to his desk, but what followed was a mind-numbing process filled with mixed messages. Thibodeau and Layden took hard-line stances in negotiations, according to team sources who entered into the talks. Several owners reached out to Taylor directly, and while those conversations felt more productive, Taylor resisted calls to make a unilateral move.
The Sixers and Butler, a four-time All-Star, have every intention of formalizing a long-term agreement this summer, sources said, but nothing is allowed to be negotiated or agreed upon until Butler opts out of the final year of his contract after the season. The Sixers will weigh Butler’s physical condition and how he fits with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but they didn’t give up such significant assets believing that this would be a rental situation.
Alex Kennedy: Caron Butler (@Caron Butler) on 76ers-Wolves trade: “I like what Philadelphia did, acquiring Jimmy Butler. They need another shooter besides JJ Redick. They just need 1 more spacer. They have playmaking, which is key. They have a realistic chance to come out of the East though.”
The Sixers have agreed to trade forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington as part of a package to acquire All-Star forward Jimmy Butler on Saturday, a team source confirmed to PhillyVoice. … The 2022 second-round pick [headed to the Timberwolves] will be whichever is the better pick between Philadelphia’s and Denver’s. The Sixers picked up the option to swap seconds with Denver in their trade for Wilson Chandler this past summer.
Including the $30.7M Jimmy Butler free agent hold, Philadelphia will have roughly $21M in cap space for 2019-20. The room includes renouncing all free agents except for Butler and TJ McConnell. The 76ers would be close to adding another max slot if they find a home for former first overall pick Markelle Fultz.
For Timberwolves and president/coach Tom Thibodeau, accepting two players unlikely to crack his rotation and four draft picks with uncertain conditions was a non-starter, sources said. Around the NBA, there’s belief that the Heat and Philadelphia 76ers could re-emerge in the Butler discussions.
Sources familiar with the situation insist the Sixers’ interest in Butler has been overstated throughout the process. High-ranking members of the front office have noted Butler’s clashing with the young pieces surrounding him in Minnesota, primarily Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and remain wary of introducing Butler’s personality into a locker room and culture they have spent years building under head coach Brett Brown, as PhillyVoice reported in mid-September.
There have been steady rumbles around the league in recent days that the 76ers will ultimately give the Heat some competition in the Butler Sweepstakes, after it appeared for the longest time that Miami was the only team seriously interested in trading for Butler before he becomes a free agent. Let’s see.
Adrian Wojnarowski: “Houston, to me, is the one team in this entire process, the only team in this process, who can rightly believe, ‘If we trade for Jimmy Butler, we think he helps us win a championship this year.’ There’s not another team who can say that who’s really involved in this. The one team that has been on the periphery, and I still think could be heard from in this, is Philadelphia. Because I think they’re a little like Houston right now in that they’re evaluating themselves and they’re saying, ‘Not only are not sure we didn’t improve from last year, I’m not sure we’ll even be the same team.'”
Adrian Wojnarowski: “I still think Philadelphia may be heard from again in this, and Miami, I don’t think they’ve given up on the idea of Jimmy Butler, but Houston is the one team who says, ‘OK, we want to win it, this is our window, it’s in the next couple of years, and right now we’re probably not good enough to do it.'”
Taylor has tasked general manager Scott Layden with the focus of finding a trade, as Thibodeau concentrates on coaching the team. Miami and Philadelphia remain teams interested in potential deals for Butler, and Taylor has hoped that those teams would become more aggressive in their offers to pry Butler, league sources said.
But the Warriors won’t have four in-their-prime stars forever. Chris Paul is 33. Towns has a chance to be the most versatile scoring big man in history. You’re gonna leave that dude to go to Miami and play with … who? You’re gonna move to Brooklyn, even though Irving scuttled the dream of teaming up there? Philly would be a different story, and Butler has eyes for them, sources familiar with the matter say. The Sixers have expressed almost no interest in trading for him, sources say. There is some theoretical road map to a Clippers team-up with Leonard.
The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly sought Ben Simmons in a potential Jimmy Butler trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Thursday, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor explained just how high the Timberwolves’ asking price is for their disgruntled shooting guard: “One of the things that I’ve heard from a handful of sources is that—with the Sixers for example—the initial offer that they made, the counter-offer was like, ‘We need Ben Simmons in a deal.'”
Sam Amick: All the noise about Jimmy Butler yesterday was about Miami, but it’s clear Minnesota’s price tag remains extremely high. To highlight one rumored team, I’m told Philly is currently completely out of the JB situation and has never had any traction after preliminary discussions.
Darren Wolfson: Interesting day that isn’t close to being over. Have a few min. to post videos. Here’s Thibs/Layden on Butler trade request. See @ Jon Krawczynski saying to not sleep on Nets, LAC, Philly, which I have heard. Heard Kings today too. Heat still pushing.
Would the Sixers entertain the idea of acquiring Butler if he came at a massive discount on the trade market? Almost certainly. They’re not in the business of turning down the opportunity to acquire a star player for next to nothing, and they’re not unique in that sense. In a competitive marketplace, with Butler declaring a preferred destination list that doesn’t include Philadelphia? That’s a different story. There’s a reason the Sixers have continued to lock down one-year deals and not rock the boat after striking out on max free agents this summer — they like what they have in place, and they don’t necessarily want to disrupt that with unnecessary or unworthy risk.
PhillyVoice conducted numerous discussions with people around the team after the Butler trade demand broke Wednesday, and my sense is the Sixers are extremely wary of the idea of Butler, specifically related to the clashes he’s had with young teammates in both Chicago and Minnesota. The role players they have around their stars double as their most valuable movable trade chips, and the Sixers value their character as much as their output. … Never say never, but Butler to Philadelphia seems like an unlikely proposition at this stage. With young stars in the fold and strong culture years in the making, the Sixers seem to view chasing Butler’s upside as a risk they’d rather let someone else take.
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March 23, 2019 | 2:23 pm EDT Update
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