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Dario Saric and Robert Covington are Tom Thibodeau’s kind of players. Those two were the primary pieces in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ trade of Jimmy Butler to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Timberwolves could start Saric and Covington right away.
Saric was a versatile and somewhat underrated big man next to Joel Embiid in Philly. He knows how to play alongside an All-Star caliber big man, and that should serve the Wolves well — as Saric will team with Karl-Anthony Towns in the frontcourt.
But Thibodeau may be even more excited about Covington. The veteran small forward is a true 3-and-D type, with an emphasis on the defense part.
Thibodeau loves grind-it-out defenders who always play hard, and that is Covington, who was cut by the Houston Rockets before finding a niche with the Sixers.
“It’s a mentality of never giving up,” Covington told Amico Hoops on the day before the trade. “Just because something didn’t work out with one situation, doesn’t mean it can’t work out for the next. A lot of guys … they thrive when they get the right opportunity.”
That’s the type of attitude Thibodeau can get something out of.
Granted, Thibodeau has experienced a lot of criticism lately. As team president/coach, he probably held on to Butler too long.
As well as Saric and Covington may fit, the Sixers’ deal wasn’t the Wolves’ best offer. The Miami Heat reportedly offered Josh Richardson in a deal for Butler, and Richardson is on the rise. He may be better than Butler by next season and would come without the attitude.
But team owner Glen Taylor would be wise to give Thibodeau a chance with this squad. Without the distraction of Butler, the Timberwolves can still go places.
The starting lineup may go something like this — Towns, Saric, Covington, Andrew Wiggins and either Derrick Rose or Jeff Teague at point guard. Also, Ross and Teague actually played well on the floor together in Monday’s win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Still, Rose is playing so well that the Wolves may want to consider moving Teague to the Phoenix Suns for one of their younger point men. The Suns like Teague and would undoubtedly listen. Minnesota also acquired veteran Jerryd Bayless in the trade with the Sixers. Tyus Jones is another point guard on the roster. So a Teague deal may indeed be on the way before February.
As for the frontcourt, Taj Gibson may have to move to the bench behind Saric, and that’s OK. Between Saric, Covington, Gibson and Anthony Tolliver, Minnesota is covered at forward.
Basically, everyone is talking about this trade from the angle of Butler and what he will mean to Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Sixers. It could be a lot — assuming Butler gets his out-of-control ego back in check.
But the Timberwolves look to have done well for themselves, too. The drama is gone, replaced by guys who just want to play ball, guys who are pretty good at it and guys who fit the Thibodeau mold.