With a little less than a month away from the NBA’s opening night, all is not well with the Minnesota Timberwolves organization. All-Star guard Jimmy Butler has asked to be traded. He’s had a long-standing rapport with coach Tom Thibodeau from their days in Chicago Bulls. Thibodeau flew out to meet with him, hoping to mend fences and keep him in the fold. Butler helped the Timberwolves sneak into the Western Conference playoffs with a 47-35 record.
Butler reportedly gave a short list of teams that he considers as desired destinations, where he would be willing to sign a long-term contract. He is eyeing the New York Knicks, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Los Angeles Clippers. What these three teams have in common is that they have cap space to offer Butler a max deal beginning in the 2019-20 season.
The Timberwolves were a winning team with a young and talented core in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns. What happened? What turned Butler off?
Reports coming out from various camps is that Butler was getting frustrated with either the maturity and/or work ethic of Andrew Wiggins. That was at first. Later, rumors had spread that his relationship with Towns had gone downhill.
Tensions rose and got messy, to the point that contract extension negotiations with Towns have “stalled” and that Butler’s presence on the team was a roadblock.
The situation does have a silver lining. It’s happening now and the organization still has time to move on from its fallout if they act quickly. Despite Thibodeau’s assurances that he would prefer to keep Butler on the team, it appears there are already irreconcilable differences that have formed a gap that cannot be bridged.
Butler played 64 games for the T-Wolves last season and posted averages of 21.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg, and 4.8 apg.