It’s been a tumultuous summer for the Philadelphia 76ers. What started as a summer filled with hope and excitement turned into a letdown when the Sixers missed out on all three of their superstar targets. LeBron took his talents to Hollywood, giving the Sixers a courtesy meeting with his representatives. Paul George re-signed with OKC before the Sixers could even contact him. San Antonio had little interest in the Sixers plethora of young players and picks, wanting Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid in exchange for Kawhi Leonard. The Sixers started the summer with LeBron-sized dreams, it ended with Wilson Chandler as the biggest offseason addition.
Out of nowhere, another opportunity arose. Jimmy Butler stunningly requested a trade less than a week until training camp. To make matters worse, the Timberwolves organization became a circus in the aftermath of Butler’s trade request leaking. Andrew Wiggins’ brother tweeted “Hallelujah!”, which caused Butler to respond with the same word, and telling Wiggins “To keep that same energy”. Andrew Wiggins got in a feud with Stephen Jackson. Reports trickled out that Karl Anthony-Towns was refusing to sign an extension until Butler is traded. The Sixers might not strike out after all.
Butler has become a polarizing topic among Sixers fans. On one hand, he is a legitimate star and would immediately put the Sixers in the same tier as Boston and Toronto. On the other, Butler had an ugly exit in Chicago and is heading for an even uglier one in Minnesota. He feuded with young players in both stops. Would he really be the right fit with the Sixers and their young roster? Yes. Let’s lay out the reasons why.
He’s a Great Fit
Butler is a great fit with Ben Simmons and the rest of the Sixers roster. He has improved his three point shooting since entering the league. As it currently stands, the Sixers only have one facilitator in their starting lineup. Butler would be a welcomed addition to the starting lineup. He’d also make the Sixers arguably the best defensive team in the league. Imagine a Simmons/Redick/Butler/Covington/Embiid starting lineup. That’s three guys in the lineup who can guard 1-4. That would be very valuable in a potential series with the Boston Celtics or Toronto Raptors.
The Price is Going to be Very Low
The price for Jimmy Butler lowers by the minute. Butler isn’t going to be reporting to training camp on Monday. It’s clear that a sizable portion of the Wolves locker room wants him gone. There’s been talk about the Sixers giving up Dario Saric and more for Butler. I don’t foresee the price tag being that high. If the Wolves want to remain competitive in 2018-19, then a package centered on Wilson Chandler and the 2021 Miami 1st could get it done. The Sixers would likely need to throw in a prospect such as Furkan Korkmaz, Landry Shamet, or Jonah Bolden as well. Even if you don’t think Butler will re-sign in Philly, if the price is that low, it’s a worthwhile risk to take.
Time is Running Out to Find A Third Star
After striking out this summer, time is almost up on the Sixers to find a third star. The deadline for finding the third piece is the 2019 offseason. Joel Embiid will start the first year of his max contract this season. Ben Simmons will be receiving a max deal on July 1st of 2019. Dario Saric will be an RFA the summer of 2020, just as Markelle Fultz* will be up for an extension. The Sixers need to make their move now. And their options for next summer are already dwindling. If Butler is traded elsewhere, he will likely sign elsewhere next summer. Klay Thompson has no desire to leave Oakland. Kawhi Leonard has his sights set on LA. Kyrie Irving is going to be in either New York or Boston. So that leaves us with….Kemba Walker and Khris Middleton? Not ideal. The Sixers need to make their move now, or else that third star we’ve dreamed about for years will never arrive.
* Please note that I am fully aware that Markelle Fultz could be that third star. But he also might not be. As much as we all love him, the Sixers shouldn’t operate under the assumption that he will be the third piece, because if he’s not, then they are in trouble.