The Philadelphia 76ers Should Trade for Jimmy Butler
For a guy who was once the league's Most Improved Player, has been voted Second Team All-Defense on three occasions and stands a two-time All-Star, Jimmy Butler sure has a hard time getting comfortable -- and it has nothing to do with him.
Two years ago, I talked about why Butler's so underrated even though he was and is such a valuable NBA commodity. Nine months ago, amid rumors, that evolved into considering whether or not the Chicago Bulls should trade him, to which I said "...for the right price." That didn't happen, and Chicago instead built on what they had this offseason by adding Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade in free agency.
The question became whether the Bulls would sort it out with three alpha-guards on the same team, or even on the floor at the same time. A little while ago, I thought they had it all figured out. It appeared they did at the time, but now I know how wrong I was.
Since then, the only good thing that's happened is a 52-point game courtesy of Butler. In the 26 games since November 16, the Bulls are 12-14 and have fallen from fifth to seventh in the Eastern Conference. Instead of hanging around the MVP conversation, Butler is now the subject of serious trade rumors once again.
I no longer question whether or not the Bulls should consider trading their best player, given the franchise's current direction toward an inevitable rebuild. That being said, there are many places he could end up, and there are many contenders that would love to have a two-way player of Butler's caliber.
A contender doesn't have the young assets other teams do, though, so the Bulls would be better served looking at teams in need of a proven veteran. And, after running through the talent and financials, it just so happens the Philadelphia 76ers would be a perfect match.
A Lack of Experience
The Sixers' average age of their current roster is 24.6, and they're the only team with an average age under 25 years old. In fact, they have only four players older than 25 years of age and three with at least five years of experience in the NBA.
Those players are Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless and Ersan Ilyasova, all of whom are solid NBA players. However, they're nowhere near worth a starting gig in today's talent-filled NBA. Bayless has played just three games all year due to injury, while Henderson and Ilyasova have earned nERD scores of -0.9 and 0.2 in 31 and 32 games, respectively. They combine for just -0.7 nERD, meaning they would contribute that many wins below .500 on a league-average team.
Adding the 27-year-old Butler would ensure they get more experience along with more positive production. The five-year player's current nERD of 9.7 is superior to the Sixers' collective total of -15.2.
And, if Butler was to take up residence with the Sixers (and his stats were to transpose along with him) he would lead the team in points and rank second in boards per game. Furthermore, his offensive rating of 124 would place him second behind Nerlens Noel, while his .257 win shares per 48 would lead the squad.
The value of Butler's playoff experience and his everyday drive are unquantifiable. He would bring production and an attitude seldom seen in the Sixers' locker room over the past three-plus seasons.
A Need For Young Talent
Surprisingly enough, at an average of 26.4 years of age, the Bulls are actually below the league's average roster age of 26.8. On the contrary, their most frequent starting lineup has an average age of 30, and their current lineup -- absent Rondo -- is 29 years old, on average.
Their youth and inexperience is on the bench. So, even if the Bulls manage to move Rondo, Robin Lopez or both, they would have to do more than just open up a few minutes here and there. They need to add starter-worthy talent or players who, with some development, will become that.
The Sixers possess those types of pieces, in the form of current players and future draft picks.
Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric are most certainly off the market for obvious reasons. The rest of the team, however, is probably tradable for the right price. Those young players include Noel, Jahlil Okafor, Robert Covington and Timothe Luwawu, among others.
As for draft picks, Philly has plenty of them. In the next four drafts (up to 2020), they have a minimum of six and a maximum of seven first-round draft selections. Their 2017 draft assets are particularly appealing right now.
The Sixers' own pick will likely fall within the draft lottery, but they also own the Los Angeles Lakers' first-round pick if it falls outside the top three. Therefore, if everything works out in their favor, Philadelphia could have two picks in the first 4 to 10 draft slots. They could afford to move one of those if they wish to do so for a player of Butler's caliber.
Two Happy Parties
Utilizing ESPN's NBA Trade Machine, here's how one of many possible trades would work out.
Take the promise of three young players, including their flexible contracts (especially Covington's two-year deal), along with a high draft pick and you get a match made in heaven. Like I said, though, this is only one of many possibilities. There are many interchangeable parts, like substituting Noel over Okafor.
Either way, you get the picture. The Sixers can comfortably depart with a few of their young players because it allows Brett Brown to make room for others to play a full complement of minutes. On the other side, the Bulls would receive some promising young talent, a direct replacement for Butler -- in Covington -- and what would likely be a top-10 pick.
And as you can see, the financials also work out for both sides. The Bulls, currently over the cap, would work their way under the cap by unloading Butler's more than $17 million per year. The Sixers still have a little cap room to spare and should be thankful to get Butler on a cap-friendly deal in today's free-agent environment.
Unfortunately, the only losing party to this transaction would be Wade. He still gets his money, but he will definitely fall victim to wasting at least a part of what little precious time he has playing at the high level he's used to. That is, barring any future trade or buyout.
Apart from the Chicago native, it sure looks like each party wins. The Bulls will literally lose games, but the franchise will reboot in a positive way. The Sixers get the proven wing scorer they've lacked for quite some time. NBA fans get Jimmy Butler the unquestioned alpha dog and a relevant Sixers team.
Let's make it happen!