Jimmy Butler finally got his wish. The NBA superstar has been shipped out of Minnesota, traded to the Philadelphia 76ers where he was introduced as the team’s newest player today. Butler will make his debut for the team on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic.
The blockbuster trade to team Butler with rising young stars Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid has sportsbooks scrambling to update the Sixers' NBA championship odds.
With the acquisition of Butler, the 76ers odds to win the 2018-19 NBA Finals increased from 20/1 to 16/1 at Westgate Las Vegas sportsbook. DraftKings also moved the odds to 16/1, from 22/1. BetDSI now has the Sixers listed at 15/1 and BetOnline adjusted Philadelphia to 14/1 odds after the trade.
Philadelphia entered the season with 14/1 Finals odds. They currently hold a 9-6 record, good for third best in the Eastern Conference so far this season, but saw their odds drop after the season started due, in part, to the emergence of the Toronto Raptors.
Toronto’s 12-2 start to the season is the best in the NBA and has improved the team’s Finals chances from 40/1 before the season to 10/1 currently at BetOnline.
Most oddsmakers still have Philadelphia slated behind the Boston Celtics and Raptors as the Eastern Conference’s third best team, even after the Butler trade. The deal did nothing to change who oddsmakers think will win the NBA Finals: the Golden State Warriors remain the overwhelming favorite at every outfit.
No Time Like the Present
The Butler trade is the first major move made by general manager Elton Brand, who was hired by the team in September.
Brand, who spent six of his 17 NBA seasons with the 76ers, traded for the disgruntled Butler from the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for three players and a future second-round draft pick back in 2022. Earlier this year, Butler had a much publicized outburst at a Timberwolves practice in which he called out several teammates as well as head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden.
Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris said Butler’s passion is what drove the team to make the move.
“This is a city that loves fierce competitors and those who will push against all obstacles to find a way to win,” Harris said. “That’s the ethic that we built our team on and, Jimmy, that’s obviously what you do every night on the court, so we’re really excited to have you.”
Butler is averaging 21.3 points and 36 minutes in 10 games so far this season.
“We have a championship window and it’s important that we do whatever it takes to capitalize on it. So it was important to go get a superstar,” Brand said at an introductory press conference.
Making Moves On and Off the Court
Harris and the 76ers were also in the headlines last month with some off-court news.
The team partnered with Caesars Entertainment, becoming the first NBA team to secure a branding partnership with a casino operator.
Harris, who also owns the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, has been active in orchestrating deals between the sports franchises he owns and the gaming industry. The Devils have already secured three such partnerships – the other two with William Hill and FanDuel – companies that operate within the sports betting industry.
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