Jimmy Butler has been traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the 7th overall pick. This pick was used by the Bulls to select 7-footer Lauri Markkanen from Arizona. The Timberwolves also received the 16th overall pick which was used to select Justin Patton, the freshman center from Creighton.
So now there is an interesting narrative developing in the Western Conference. The T-Wolves now have Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and the recently acquired Butler to go along with support from Ricky Rubio, Gorgui Deng, and Shabazz Muhammad. This team was 31-51 last season, but with this trade, the team might be able to make a playoff run. Butler adds valuable scoring to a team that was 14th in the league in points scored last year and 19th in points allowed.
We have been waiting for this team to reach its potential with picks like Rubio, Wesley Johnson, and Derick Williams all failing to become what the team had hoped. But now, with this trade, I wonder if the team is able to push past their mediocrity and become at least a lower seeded playoff team.
Of course, with Steph Curry expected to resign with the Warriors, the West looks all but decided for next year. But, with Durant becoming a free agent after next season, and Klay Thompson the year after, the Timberwolves might be a team to watch in the West in the years to come. The Warriors dynasty will come an end at some point, and I see the T-Wolves as one of the best contenders to take their crown. Until then, the Wolves could gain some valuable playoff experience for guys like Wiggins and Towns which could be invaluable in future years.
That being said, it's pretty hard to bet against Popovich. Also, Harden and Westbrook are respectively a piece or two away from being able to contend themselves.
So what do you guys think? It seems pointless to discuss who will win the West next year, but after that, who do you think will replace the Warriors?