MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – When Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless entered the hotel rooms in Minnesota, they found appropriate gifts from Timberwolf's All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns: Winter Gowns.
After the overnight temperature fell to 7 degrees, the newest members of the team appreciated by Jimmy Butler's trade in Philadelphia welcome from Minnesota's best players. Butler's difficult and prolonged departure created an icy atmosphere around the organization, but now that the deal has been completed, Wolves has begun trying to warm the atmosphere again.
"We can not wait to go to court, put on the jersey and put it on for this city," Covington said at a press conference in the target center on Tuesday afternoon, which was only a bit less than Butler's open-to-public introduction at the Mall of America less than 17 months ago.
When Butler formally joined the 76's, the volumes turned forward after a pressure-relieving victory over Brooklyn on Monday night after a 0-5-way journey.
Neither Covington nor Saric played against the net, but they are about to take the floor on Wednesday night against New Orleans. Bayless is injured, rehabilitates a hyperextended right knee, and with a glut goalkeeper on the roster, he is not expected to see the playing time even when he is healthy. Both Covington and Saric were entrees for Sixers, who finished third in the East Conference last season at 52-30.
"They are both young and they will be better. Both are very defensive. They both shoot 3. We think they are good for the guys we have," said the president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau. "When we reached the point where we felt we had several turners, we felt it was time to complete the deal. When we originally started, it was not."
Whether the Timberwolves could be better without Butler, the four-time All-Star with exceptional ability at both ends of the court, Thibodeau forced.
"We need to focus on who is here. We think we have a good young core, and we have to build it up," said Thibodeau.
Covington is the center of the package.
The 27-year-old, who went undrafted from Tennessee State and started in the NBA with Houston in the 2013-14 season, has a career average of 12.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game with a 35.9 shooting percentage from 3 – point interval 6-foot-9 Covington was an All-Defensive First Team selected last season with a career-most 315 deflections and a defensive score of 99.0 that led all forward in the league with at least 30 minutes per match. He was ninth in the NBA in theft with an average of 1.7 per game.
It is the area where he will help Timberwolf's most, the area that Butler was acquired to help improve.
"To stay in this league and be effective, you must be able to go down there and be able to stop someone at the other end," Covington said, adding: "I think I saw more movies the first years than I have ever seen my whole life , as far as just different guys and looking at how they read some things and build the habits of watching players and everything. So I would say that in recent years when everything started to click. "
The 24-year-old Saric was named the All-Rookie First Team in 2016-17. Domestic in Croatia has career averages of 13.5 points, 6.5 returns and 2.4 helps per game. He shot 39.3 percent from the 3-point range last season.
Covington is likely to fill Butler's starting point. Thibodeau was able to move Taj Gibson to the other unit and keep Saric as a starter. The 6-foot-10 Saric, which was the 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft, is the classic "stretch four" with a force forward size and a small forward shot. He softened well with Sixers center Joel Embiid, so Towns have the potential to similarly complement their game.
"CAT shoots so much better from the 3-point line than Joel, and it seems we can play with each other," says Saric, adding: "If I find a way how to play with Joel, I think I can find a way to play with CAT. "