Does Butler put Minnesota in the Playoffs?

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The Timberwolves traded Zach Lavine (3.0 WS), Kris Dunn (0.1 WS) and the number 7 pick (Lauri Markkanen) to the Bulls for Jimmy Butler (13.8 WS) and the 16th pick (Justin Patton). Patton and Markkanen are both 7-footers who just turned 20, not likely to produce much in their rookie seasons. Dunn was not able to find his footing in his rookie season with the Wolves. Lavine is a good young player and great scorer, but Butler had the 3rd best Win Score in the NBA last season.

On the surface, this trade will add about 11 Wins to the T’Wolves and give them a projected 42-40 finish. This will put them in contention for the last playoff spot, which the Trailblazers took last season with a 41-41 record. Coach Thibs is known to get the most out of his players and has a history of doing exactly that previously with Butler in Chicago, so I think we can expect the same when these two team up in Minnesota.

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Paul George

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George has given the Indiana Pacers 7 really good years and helped his team win plenty of games by playing both ends effectively. He is a very good player in the NBA, with a WSP48 of .145, and one of the league’s best shooters from outside. In the playoffs, he has shown an ability to raise his level of play. He will make $19.5 million in 2017-18 and could then sign a maximum 4 year deal worth about $130 million.

Last season, he was worth 7.1 Wins (top 40) for the Pacers. Even though it wasn’t his best season overall, he had the best shooting season of his career with 39.3% 3-Point accuracy and 195 makes, twelfth best in the NBA. His regular season WSP48 of .127 was 100th best in the NBA. His salary of $18.3 million was 24th most in the league, a premium based on his deadly shooting.

The Cavs, reportedly, are in touch with the Pacers to make a deal for George. A trade for J.R. Smith and Richard Jefferson would keep the core of the Cavs intact and add to their record-setting shooting arsenal with 38 more 3s than J.R. and R.J. combined and more than Kyrie Irving, the Cavs’ leader with 177.

If Los Angeles is George’s preferred destination, a swap for Luol Deng might be preferable to the Lakers. This would clear space and add to their defense on the wing. It is yet to be seen if the Pacers will deal George now or wait it out longer.