Around the NBA: Wild free agency weekend

Yesterday marked the beginning of official NBA free agency, and it didn’t take long until madness ensued.

Player movement in the NBA has become increasingly common over the past decade or so. Players are taking their careers in their own hands and deciding where they want to play. Conversely, owners see this and have no qualms about shipping players suddenly and often with little explanation. The result is what we experienced yesterday - madness on day one of NBA free agency with players moving around like wild.

The below tweet by SLAM Newswire is about as condensed a way for us to show you all player movement as is possible. The information is solid as of midnight or so, though there are now rumblings that something is holding up the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade with Miami, though that will likely be cleared up soon.

To highlight some moves from the already long list - Kevin Durant has made a decision and Kawhi Leonard has not. Those are undeniably the top names on the list, though Durant’s achilles injury in game 5 of the Finals means he will miss next season and may not be 100% the same when he does return. Kawhi is showing interest in the two LA teams, though a return to Toronto is still a strong possibility.

Kevin Durant is heading to the Brooklyn Nets with another big free agent as his running mate. Kyrie Irving was expected to leave the Boston Celtics, but that became abundantly clear when it came out Saturday that Boston intended to sign Hornets All-Star Kemba Walker to a lucrative 4-year deal. The Irving-to-Brooklyn news was fairly simultaneous with the KD news this past weekend. We also learned later that both took less money so that DeAndre Jordan could come across town from the Knicks for a cool $10M/year for four seasons.

Jimmy Butler is another big one in the aforementioned sign-and-trade with the Heat that would send the less talented, but more versatile, Josh Richardson to Philly. The move is an interesting one for Butler, who came to the Sixers because he “only care(d) about winning.” He was fed up with a lackadaisical Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, but now is heading to the so-so Heat and known lazy center Hassan Whiteside. Alright, Jimmy.

Though the Celtics found a nice shoot-first point guard replacement for Irving in Kemba Walker, they will be hard-pressed to replace big man, Al Horford, who is now a Philadelphia 76er.

Perhaps the most underrated move this free agency is the Utah Jazz signing Bojan Bogdanovic, formerly an Indian Pacer. After a trade the prior week to acquire Mike Conely, the Utah Jazz are looking like a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.

A few other noteworthy deals: First-time All-Star, DeAngelo Russel is headed from Brooklyn to Golden State as the Warriors seek post-Durant scoring while Klay Thompson heals up. The Bucks had to watch Malcolm Brogdon depart, but retained Kris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and George Hill - they have also signed Brook’s twin brother, Robin Lopez. Harrison Barnes resigned for plenty of money with Sacremento. Kristaps Porzingis is locked in with the Mavericks long-term, who also acquired Goran Dragic to create a full Slovenian backcourt with ROY, Luke Doncic. Nik Vucevic and Terrance Ross resigned with Orlando. Rudy Gay is staying in San Antonio and Ricky Rubio is going from Utah to Phoenix.

Player movement is not over, especially with Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard still yet to make a decision. Follow us on Twitter and keep checking in on this blog as we strive to continue to bring you the top news from the NBA as well as the rest of the basketball world!

Jimmy Butler is set to debut in Philadelphia

Jimmy Butler finally got his wish granted - He has been traded from the Minnesota Timberwolves and is back in the Eastern Conference.

The Philadelphia 76ers play the Orlando Magic tonight (only available on League Pass) and it sounds like Jimmy Butler will start for the Sixers. Butler was traded by the T-Wolves along with Justin Patton to Philadelphia in exchange for Dario Saric, Robert Covington, Jarryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round draft pick.

The Jimmy Butler drama has carried over from a long Summer into an uncomfortable start to the season for the Timberwolves. The drama translated into a poor record to start, underwhelming performances by the Wolves’ young stars, and tensions reaching new heights.

The inevitable trade happened on 11/10/18, effectively jettisoning Butler from the team. All things considered, it wasn’t a bad haul for the Wolves since Butler was a lock to leave one way or another.

Dario Saric will bring a nice facet to Tom Thibodeau’s squad in the form of a stretch four that can stay out of Karl-Anthony Towns’ way, but still be a scoring threat. Robert Covington brings needed perimeter shooting as well and Jaryd Bayless is a solid veteran presence to backup oft-injured point guard, Derrick Rose.

Philadelphia’s new star

Butler is the kind of player that can realistically fit with any team on the court. He has good size and strength, but maintains the quickness necessary to lock down opposing perimeter players. He is an improved outside shooter and a fantastic slasher. However, he is leaving a team with young players with unique personalities to go to… a team with young players with unique personalities.

The 76ers go-to scorer, rebounder, and rim-protector is Joel Embiid. “The Process” as he is nicknamed is a 7 footer that can hit the three and handle the rock in a pinch. Aside from being an MVP candidate, he is actually known just as much for his tweeting and say-anything demeanor.

Philly’s other star is Ben Simmons, a 6’10” point guard with incredible talent that refuses to shoot jumpers. There is also Markelle Fultz, another huge talent and former first overall pick that is so down in the confidence department, that he may struggle to ever reach his potential.

Enter Butler, who is a fiery competitor that was fed up with his nonchalant young teammates in Minny. Despite the quirks of his new teammates, he must see more of a desire to win here.

After giving up substantial outside shooting, Philadelphia will have to adjust on the fly as they are clearly in “win now” mode. Will Fultz get with the program or be the next piece to be moved?

One way or another - this is going to be interesting. The Sixers were already one of the most fun teams to watch and that is not set to change. Stay tuned to the Movement! 

The Jimmy Butler saga

Jimmy Butler has made it clear that he wants a new team. That didn’t stop him from practicing - hard.

Minnesota Timberwolves swingman, Jimmy Butler has been looking for way out of Minny for much of the Summer. With the 2018-19 NBA season nearly upon us, he still has not been dealt. Coach and Basketball Operations President, Tom Thibodeau has been with Butler for a long time and originally was trying everything to keep him. Now that they are finally open to trading him, they are struggling to find a solid return.

The result is an unhappy Jimmy Butler still with the team. Debatably the top source for happenings in the National Basketball Association, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski or “Woj” is the man to listen for with any news on situations like these. Once Woj broke his Twitter silence to announce that Butler practiced for the first time with the team, we new things were going to get real.

Then the juicy stuff started coming in.

Butler’s return to the team was going to have an unavoidable awkwardness no-matter what. Things apparently went beyond awkward though, with emotions spilling over and confrontations between teammates, coach, and general manager.

From ESPN’s numerous reports on the situation, it sounds like between Butler’s verbal jabs was some of the hardest played basketball a Timberwolves practice has seen since Kevin Garnett.

Butler reportedly played alongside the team’s third-string players and soundly beat the regular starters. He was guarding the much larger Karl-Anthony Towns in the paint and succeeding. He was shining light on KAT and Andrew Wiggins’ lack of killer instinct.

The below interview between Jimmy and ESPN’s Rachel Nichols confirms the reports concerning how things went down. Butler is clearly displeased, believing that he is underappreciated as the hardest working player on his team. He says that Towns has the most talent and Wiggins has the most “God-given” ability with his long arms, large hands, and bounce. He has also made it clear who has the most fire.

Even if Butler is right about his running-mate’s lack of drive or the organization’s lack of appreciation for him, his response was perhaps a bit bold. Outplaying everyone in the gym and challenging teammates is one thing, but some of his comments towards ownership need some censoring. Regardless, Jimmy is clearly playing at his old All-Star level and looking to take a team with him to the top - whichever team that may be.

Many players may have left inspired by Jimmy Butler’s tenacity. By the end of the day though, the wound between Butler and the organization has not been mended. You know what that means? Unless a trade happens instantly, he’ll be back practicing with the team again today.

Update: It has been reported that the Timberwolves are not practicing today (10/11). There will be no media access either.

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