CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The news came down during Saturday morning’s team meeting, although Twitter tipped off most of the players moments before.
Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-rounder were being traded to Minnesota for Jimmy Butler and Justin Patton (see story).
At first, it was nothing but shock. T.J. McConnell said he felt that unsettling feeling in his stomach that he couldn't quite explain.
Joel Embiid said it felt like him, Covington and Saric were all just starting to play really well together.
Jonah Bolden called it a wakeup that keeps you on edge.
But after the initial shock wore off, the general sentiment amongst the locker room was that the Sixers just added an All-Star talent that could really help this team (see Butler's fit).
“There’s a sad side to it,” Simmons said. “But obviously, there’s a business side and whatever the front office decides to help us win, whatever they want to add. We are open to Jimmy and can’t wait for him to get here. I’m excited to play with him.”
Simmons had already spoken to Butler earlier in the day, and their conversation was simple, about their mindset of wanting to win.
“Between me, Jo and Jimmy," Simmons said, "we all have that similar mindset of we hate losing, that pisses us off and we want to win.”
Embiid hadn’t spoken to Butler as of Saturday night, but like Simmons, sounded optimistic.
“I think he’s going to help us a lot offensively and especially defensively," Embiid said. "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 are going to look.”
As far as how Butler’s style of play would complement the Sixers' two superstars and the notion that Butler being a more ball dominant guard, could it negatively impact their play?
“With the type of system we play, we like to move the ball," Embiid said. "The ball goes through everybody’s hands, so I don’t think bringing someone else will take the ball out of my hands or Ben's hands. We are going to figure it out. I’m sure he’s coming in here willing to fit in.”
“It’s not going to affect my game. I know how to play,” Simmons said. “I know what I’m good at. I know what I can do on the floor, him coming in helps us, and having another scorer on the floor, and another vet who will play the game the right way.”
Simmons is hoping the adjustment period will be quicker than expected, and so will their rise in the East.
“We add another All-Star to the team, definitely,” Simmons said. “A guy like him coming in that can score the ball, veteran leadership, experience, I think he’s going to fit right in.”
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