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How the Jimmy Butler trade directly affects the Atlanta Hawks

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The Hawks could benefit from the missteps of the Chicago Bulls.

Atlanta Hawks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

On Feb. 20, 2015, the Atlanta Hawks traded 2014 first round pick Adreian Payne to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for a first round draft pick in the future. The move was executed, at least in part, to extract value from a depreciated asset, as Payne struggled in Atlanta before, well, struggling some more in Minnesota.

Now, the pick is ready to potentially convey and one particular move could impact its future.

On draft night, the Chicago Bulls sent Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 overall pick to the Wolves in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick. With that move, Minnesota unabashedly improves in the present, adding a top-15 overall player in Butler to a team that already boasts Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Just how much that transaction moves the needle for the Wolves is up for debate but, in short, it certainly matters for the Hawks. Minnesota, for all intents and purposes, should be a playoff team with Towns, Butler and Wiggins on the squad. There is always a chance of injury or spectacular implosion but, if a median outcome occurs, the Wolves will probably land in the lower portion of the Western Conference playoff picture.

That would be beautiful for the Hawks in that the pick acquired as part of the Payne trade is lottery protected. In short, Atlanta would not receive the pick in 2018 if the Wolves failed to make the playoffs and that is also the case for 2019 and 2020. In fact, Minnesota failing to capitalize on the uber-talent of Towns for three seasons could actually push the pick from a first-rounder to two second-round selections if the Wolves were stuck in the lottery from 2018 through 2020.

Butler’s arrival means that is wildly unlikely, though, and Minnesota’s trajectory of winning speeds up considerably. It has to be noted that the pick headed Atlanta’s way isn’t a premium asset, simply because non-lottery picks have a different level of value. However, the decision to “sell” on Adreian Payne for a future first round pick would pay off handsomely if the pick conveys in 2018, especially as the Hawks prepare for a potential rebuild beginning next season.

It isn’t a certainty that Jimmy Butler’s move from Chicago to Minnesota will help the Atlanta Hawks but it seems like a safe bet that it will.