76ers’ Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid optimistic about addition of Jimmy Butler

Young Philadelphia 76ers stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are optimistic about the addition of All-Star forward Jimmy Butler to the team. 

On Saturday, the Sixers agreed to acquire Butler  – and forward Justin Patton – in a trade for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick. 

“You add another All-Star to the team, definitely,” Simmons said of Butler on Saturday night, via ESPN. “A guy like him who can come in, score the ball, veteran leadership, experience — he’s going to fit in here. Our culture is winning, playing together as a team and playing hard. I think he’s going to bring that.”  

Embiid agreed that Butler could help the Sixers tremendously on both ends of the floor. 

“I think he’s going to help us a lot — offensively and especially defensively, too,” Embiid said of Butler. “I think he’s one of the best defensive players in the league. I’m excited to see where he takes us and how much better we’re going to look.”  

Butler initially requested a trade from the Timberwolves in September after playing just one season with the franchise. Butler, who spent the first six years of his NBA career in Chicago with the Bulls, was traded to Minnesota in 2017 in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen. He helped lead the Wolves to their first playoff appearance in over a decade last season, but he had friction with the young players on the Wolves – namely Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He had turned down a contract extension offer from the Wolves over the offseason. 

In Philadelphia, Butler will join a young, up-and-coming contender built around Simmons and Embiid. On paper, at least, he projects to be a solid on-court complement to both players, as he provides the team with the capable scorer from a perimeter position that they have needed. If the three are able to gel, they could form one of the league’s most potent trios.   

Simmons talked to Butler briefly on Saturday after news of the deal broke, and he said that the two have a similar mindset. 

“He said he just wants to win,” Simmons said. “I think that’s the mindset we all have here. We’re excited to get Jimmy in here… Between me, Jo and Jimmy, we all have that similar mindset. We hate losing. That pisses us off. We want to win.”  

Embiid didn’t talk to Butler directly [yet], but he did talk to a couple of Butler’s former teammates – Wiggins and Towns – who thought that Butler will be a good fit in Philly. 

“They thought that he was going to be good for us,” Embiid said. “They thought that we were definitely going to get along. He wants to win. [Wiggins] told me that he thought that we were going to win the East for sure.”  

Though the Sixers are clearly excited about the addition of a top-tier, two-way talent like Butler, they are also sad to see some of their long-time teammates shipped out of town. 

“I miss Dario and Cov,” Embiid said. “They gave us a lot the past couple of years. I felt like we were starting to play really well together and figure it out. Dario was finding himself again, and Cov is first-team all-defense, doing his job and knocking down shots. I felt like we were starting to like really figure it out and play well together. 

“But it’s a business. Gotta move on. Love those guys. Wish them luck. I miss them, I love them. Gotta keep in touch with them.”  

Only time will tell if Butler proves to be an ideal complement to Embiid and Simmons, but for now, there is no shortage of optimism in Philadelphia. 

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