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Wolves asked for Ben Simmons in Jimmy Butler talks

The Minnesota Timberwolves asked the Philadelphia 76ers for one of their cornerstones in a Jimmy Butler trade.

Tom Thibodeau’s reluctance to trade Jimmy Butler has been well-documented. As an old-fashioned coach who prioritizes winning and full-throttle hustle, Butler is his perfect star. Thibs also likes former Bulls, so Butler checks every possible box.

With that said, ownership wants Butler gone, so a trade is inevitable. The asking price is still extremely high, though, with the Timberwolves demanding a laundry list of valuable assets. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Minnesota wants quality vets, top prospects, future assets and cap relief.

That won’t happen. Butler has considerable baggage, valid injury concerns, and is entering the final year of his contract. But those demands are enough to push some teams, like the Philadelphia 76ers, away.

In a recent appearance on the Bill Simmons Podcast, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported that Minnesota asked the Sixers for Ben Simmons. Elton Brand probably laughed Thibodeau off the phone.

Butler is the better player right now, but there’s a decent chance Simmons passes him in the near future. Butler is 29 going on 30, while Simmons recently turned 22. There’s no reason for the Sixers to give up a generational talent for what might turn into a one-year rental.

Simmons put together a historic rookie campaign, averaging 15.8 points, 8.1 rebounds and 8.2 assists per game while tallying 12 triple-doubles on the season.

As long as his scoring continues to progress, Simmons will be one of the best players in the NBA. His ceiling extends well beyond Butler’s, and that’s without considering the aforementioned age gap.

If anything, the Wolves asking for Simmons points to Thibs’ reluctance to trade Butler. There’s no reason to expect an answer other than ‘no’ on that offer.

Next: 3 ways Simmons can take the next step

Right now, the Miami Heat are favorites to land Butler. There are other teams in the mix, but the odds of Butler coming east seem high. The Sixers have the assets to win a Butler bidding war, but aren’t doing so. That tells you their stance on Butler.

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