Playing just 59 games last season, Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists for what could be his lone season with the Minnesota Timberwolves
Published 10:50 AM, September 23, 2018
Updated 10:50 AM, September 23, 2018
ON-COURT ISSUES. It had been a tumultuous team-up for Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Photo by Paul Mata/Rappler
CHARLOTTE, United States – Jimmy Butler just threw a wrench into the plans of Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau of reuniting with his former Chicago Bulls players. Butler had requested a trade out of Minnesota even with training camp about to start on Tuesday, September 25.
Thibodeau, who is also the president of basketball operations, has a big decision to make.
He brought Butler from the Chicago Bulls to the Timberwolves in a 2017 Draft Day trade in exchange for shooting guard Zach Lavine, forward Kris Dunn and draft rights to Lauri Markkanen. He was hoping to team up Butler with a young core of Karl Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the 2014 and 2015 first picks respectively.
The Wolves managed to scrape though the 2018 Playoffs on the last game day versus the Denver Nuggets. This ended the 13-season playoff drought for the franchise. However, they got eliminated by the Houston Rockets in the first round.
It had been a tumultuous team-up for Butler to say the least. The two young Wolves cornerstones both saw on-court chemistry issues especially when it came to crunch time. The Wolves depended largely on Butler to bail them out in crunch time situations, a problem that persisted before he joined that team and whenever he sat out due to injuries. Defense was a also major key point in Thibodeau’s first season with the Wolves that led him to bring in players who played under him before.
In early September, Thibodeau added one of his former Bulls players by signing Luol Deng after he was released by the Los Angeles Lakers. Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford all played last season and team was being dubbed as ‘TimberBulls’ in social media.
At a crossroad
Butler’s contract is set to expire after this season and Thibodeau was looking to lock him up on a long-term contract last July. He declined and by asking for a trade this early, Butler is doing the Wolves a favor in hoping to get assets in exchange instead of walking away and leaving the team empty-handed.
Thibodeau was also hoping to sign Towns to a contract extension but the big man has refused thus far. He could possibly do it if the Butler trade request is accomplished before the start of the new season.
Incidentally, Media Day happens this Monday, September 24 for all teams (except for the Philadelphia 76ers and Dallas Mavericks as they will head out to China). Players will have their photos taken in their uniforms and it could be awkward to see Butler having his picture taken when given his intentions to leave the team.
Team owner Glen Taylor, in a report by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, has expressed his willingness to trade Butler as “he doesn’t have the stomach for a dysfunctional season.”
One scenario that the Wolves could be looking at is when the New York Knicks was able to find a trade partner in the Oklahoma Thunder for Carmelo Anthony, just a couple of days before Media Day. It remains to be seen how quick and decisive the Wolves will be able to get a deal with the three teams (Knicks, Brooklyn Nets & LA Clippers) that Butler has given them. – Rappler.com