In the aftermath of the Sixers’ trade for Jimmy Butler, I, like many, was shocked that the Sixers didn’t have to part with a first round pick.

Sure, Dario Saric and Robert Covington were solid players on a blossoming squad, but really? A second round pick and the Wolves took on Jerryd Bayless? Many in the national media opined that Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau was cratering the team’s eventual return by allowing Butler to tank his trade value with his off-court antics.

Shams Charania of The Athletic dropped this interesting insight into the offers Minnesota received:

The Timberwolves ultimately decided upon Covington and Saric over a package centered around Nikola Mirotic and a first-round pick from the Pelicans, or one around Eric Gordon and two first-rounders from Houston. Other interested teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, wanted to wait until the Dec. 15 date when signed free agents could be traded to make a run at Butler, sources said.

A few takeaways:


Remember the report that the Houston Rockets had offered four first-round draft picks in exchange for Butler? That never seemed real, but a package built around Eric Gordon was conceivable, if not undesirable from the Rockets’ perspective. Gordon is a player who’s more valuable to what Houston does than what Minnesota would’ve gotten for him. Is he a more well-rounded player than Dario Saric? I’d say he’s more reliable as a shooter. Is Gordon more impactful than Dario and Cov? Doubtful. The two first-rounders couldn’t be used in successive seasons per the NBA’s Stepien Rule. Unless they were going to convey in 2020 and 2022, Minnesota would likely assure themselves two picks in the late twenties. That’s also discounting the likelihood that Tom Thibodeau is relieved of his head coach/president of basketball duties following this season if they don’t finish as a top-four team in the west.

New Orleans

Nikola Mirotic is averaging around 20 points and 11 rebounds per game and is an impending unrestricted free agent. There’s no guarantee he re-signs and unless Anthony Davis is traded, the first round pick would likely fall in the high-twenties.


This is what happens when you sign KCP to an outlandish $12 million contract in the offseason. They were never a real option with Butler’s antics in mind.

One more tidbit from Shams:

The 76ers had initially been offering draft picks and other large contracts, (Josh) Harris said. In their discussions with San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard, Philadelphia had been reluctant to part with 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, but league sources involved in the dialogue say Fultz’s name was discussed in the Butler talks.

There’s no guarantee that the inclusion of Markelle Fultz in a trade package would’ve led to an offseason trade for Kawhi, but it would be unconscionable if that was the stumbling block. I’m thrilled the Sixers got a player of Butler’s caliber, but Leonard is a top-five player in the league when healthy.