The Target Center was booming with boos, but 33 points and a jump shot dagger later, the boos turned into MVP chants.
Wiggins and Towns have already signed extensions with the Timberwolves. Jimmy Butler wants out. Photo by: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Butler led the Timberwolves to their first win of the season against the Cleveland Cavaliers last night after coming up short against the Spurs on Wednesday.
Being 1-1 so far, and it being clear that Butler is the Wolves’ best player on the floor, how do Minnesota and Tom Thibodeau approach the situation? Do they keep him because he’s too much to lose but sacrifice team chemistry? Or do they prioritize Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins by trading Butler away?
The Wolves’ front office paid Wiggins and Towns with extensions, so it’s clear that both players are in Minnesota’s long-term plans. With Butler not signing an extension, he’s the odd man out.
It’s clear that Butler’s presence on the team is affecting the Wolves’ younger talent. Towns had only 8 points on 6 shot attempts in the season opener and 12 points last night. Wiggins has put up at least 20 points in both games but at a subpar shooting percentage.
With the talks between the Wolves and Miami Heat “dead for now”, could the Wolves find another team to take Butler even with his immensely dropped stock? Teams are surely hesitant to take on a bold, in-your-face personality who used a team practice to make a personal statement.
With all the turmoil and Butler already stating he wants to leave, the logical to do would be to continue looking for a deal. But if anyone is going to stubbornly trudge on, it’s Tom Thibodeau.
It’s been speculated that Thibs has wanted to keep Butler this whole time and Butler does not plan to miss regular season games. Thibs is getting his wish by the 4x All-Star putting on a Wolves uniform.
Perhaps Thibs knows that this could be his last year as the Wolves’ head coach, and wants to go out with a playoff run. But with owner, Glen Taylor telling teams to direct deals his way, the move should still be to trade Butler.
If it takes firing Thibodeau, so be it. But the drama has gone far enough, and while it’s entertaining to fans, it embarrasses the organization. If Butler is leaving anyway, the Wolves are going to lose him for nothing if they let him sit and run the team with nothing to lose.
Whether it’s a trade to the Heat, Rockets, Raptors, Clippers, or literally anywhere else, Wolves ownership has to look to move Butler. Butler has shown his true colors as a teammate and could have more trouble than anticipated finding a home next summer. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to deny a top two-way player from a roster.
The Wolves are poised to push for the playoffs should Butler stay on the team. He’s phenomenal. But at this point, keeping Butler is a form of denial. The Wolves will eventually have to look in the mirror and move on without him.
Better sooner rather than later.