The Minnesota Timberwolves just got Jimmy Butler for what seems like highway robbery after a year of countless “Butler to Boston” rumors, many of which included at least one coveted Brooklyn Nets pick.
But instead the Chicago Bulls had to settle for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a pick swap that allowed the Bulls to pick seventh but also saw them give the 16th overall selection to the Timberwolves.
A common first reason from most fans in New England was “wow Danny Ainge could have beaten that.” This is 150% true. The Boston Celtics would have had no problem putting together a more attractive offer, but why do that? He clearly wasn’t worth any of the Celtics elite athletes at the end of the day.
Even if Minnesota it looked like the price for Butler should have been higher. The Timberwolves didn’t go into this draft with a top three pick like the Celtics did and their future draft assets aren’t anything like the pile of picks Ainge has acquired, leaving local media outlets were prepping for the team to center a trade package around 22-year old wing Andrew Wiggins, who averaged 23.6 PPG last season. They instead wound up trading away Kris Dunn – who just averaged just 3.8 PPG and 2.4 APG as a 23-year old rookie – and a talent 22-year old in Zach LaVine, who tore his ACL last February and will probably have to miss at least the first few months of next season.
On top of that, they did give up much in terms of draft stock. Chicago did get the seventh overall pick in this deal – where they drafted Arizona big man Lauri Markkanen – but they still wound up sending the 16th overall pick back to Minnesota as well, allowing the Timberwovles to take Creighton center Justin Patton.
Most of the pieces that Boston was rumored to be packaging in an effort to get Butler are better than everything the Timberwovles are giving up. For starters, the draft pick situations between the teams isn’t even close. Jaylen Brown had a substantially better rookie year than Dunn and he’s three years younger as well; it might be worth nothing that Dunn is actually only 15 days younger than three year veteran Marcus Smart. LaVine still has a very high ceiling and really seemed to be turning a corner before his injury last season, but other possible trade chips the Celtics might have given up such as Smart, Bradley and Crowder suddenly look like players who were just too established in the league compared to what Minnesota relinquished.
Boston has a ton of assets, but please don’t be impatient for Ainge to go ahead and start burning them. Giving up any Nets pick and a player mentioned in the last paragraph would have been a terrible deal when stacked up next to the one that actually happened. There are still a number of options for Ainge this summer and he will figure out the best path for the Celtics to take, which started tonight when they acquired Jayson Tatum in the first round.