Thibodeau says he sought immediate roster help in Butler trade

The Minnesota Timberwolves have moved on from the Jimmy Butler era, having officially completed their trade of the All-Star swingman to the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday. In their part of the swap, the Sixers sent the Wolves valuable rotation players Dario Saric, Robert Covington and Jerryd Bayless.

While the Wolves had been in many rumored talks with many other teams leading up to the Butler swap, this kind of trade was ultimately what Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau was looking for. Deals were before Thibodeau that could have helped the Wolves in the long term, short term or a mixture of both scenarios.

Ultimately, Thibodeau told reporters Monday that adding players who can provide some immediate help to the Wolves was what drove him to this swap. Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has more:

“We wanted quality players. That was important for us,” Thibodeau said. “[We get] two starters [Covington and Saric] off a team that won 52 games, and they’re both young. … Once we get to that point where we felt we were getting multiple rotational players, we felt it would be time to execute the deal.”

Thibodeau, who addressed the trade for the first time publicly Monday after it became official, decided the time had come after the Wolves went 0-5 on their recent West Coast trip. Thibodeau didn’t indicate that the timing of the slide had anything to do with the team’s recent misfortune, although after Friday’s loss to Sacramento Thibodeau insisted the Wolves “have got to change it.”

Thibodeau instead said the deal happened because the 76ers had an offer the Wolves thought was acceptable after weeks of negotiations with many teams.

“You set the parameters of what you’re looking for, and we knew exactly what we were looking for,” Thibodeau said. “And once we felt we got to that point where the offers met some of the things we were looking for, then we decided OK, now it’s time.”

The Wolves reportedly had trade talks with the Miami with deals that could have potentially sent Minnesota young Heat guard Josh Richardson. The Houston Rockets reportedly showed interest at one point in landing Butler as well. But two months after Butler made his trade request known, he has moved on to the Eastern Conference.

Thibodeau told reporters Monday he wasn’t sure if Covington and Saric would become starters, but he did say they would have “significant” roles going forward. Saric averaged 13.5 points with the 76ers over parts of three seasons, while Covington averaged 12.9 points during his five seasons with Philly. They were the starting forwards for the 76ers in nearly every game last season.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.


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