The saga in Minnesota between All-NBA, NBA-Allstar Jimmy Butler, and the Timberwolves organization finally came to a head. According to the Athletic’s Sam Amick and Shams Charania, after a meeting with his coach Tom Thibideou Jimmy Butler is demanding a trade out of Minnesota. The list of his desired locations includes the Clippers, Knicks, and the Nets.
There have been multiple reports that Butler is unhappy with the direction of the franchise. There was a lot of speculation that Butler’s growing frustration with the young stars on the team was finally reaching it's boiling point. Throughout last season there were numerous reports that Butler clashed with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Since coming into the league it has been well documented that Butler has a tremendous work ethic, and he expects his teammates to have the same work ethic. Butlers leadership style has been seen as hard driving an extremely demanding. Many players do not respond well to this form of leadership, and often times can have a negative effect on a team. In fairness to Butler, his intense work ethic and passion is what got him to the NBA and has made him one of the best players in the NBA.
Butler’s Destination List
There is a rumor going around that Butler and Kyrie Irving want to team up together in New York. The Knicks would be their desired location, but the Nets are also in play.
The Knicks currently have one max slot open heading into 2019 free agency. If they can move Joakim Noah’s contract they can make room for a second max player. Who wouldn’t want to play in New York in Madison Square Garden and bring a Knicks franchise back to prominence? Kristaps Porziņģis is a young star in the league with the potential to be a superstar if his health holds up.
The Nets potentially could have two max slots but it’s going to take a lot of work by GM Sean Marks to clear the space. Under the leadership of Marks, the Nets have made huge strides in becoming a respectable franchise. They have a coach in Kenny Atkinson the players around the league respect and want to play for.
The Clippers would be in the position to sign two max players next summer. The Clippers under the ownership of Steve Ballmer have made several moves this season that shows they are committed to building a winning culture. Doc Rivers is now focused strictly on coaching with Lawrence Frank taking over as President of Basketball Operations. They brought in Jerry West as a consultant, who even at 80 years old is still positively affecting organizations with his advice and wisdom.
This clearly marks the start of the end of the Tom Thibodeau era in Minnesota. If Thibideau has any hopes of saving his job he should immediately relinquish his title as President of Basketball Operations and focus solely on coaching. His moves as a GM has been less than stellar. He continues to sign aging players from his 2011 Bulls roster. He needs to finally change his ways, and give the young players they drafted more playing time so they could actually develop. He needs to change his reputation of playing his players too many minutes and running them into the ground.
In the end, all indicators point to Thibideou sticks to his guns and refusing to change his coaching style, or relinquishing his position as GM. In the NBA it is amazing how quickly things can change. The Timberwolves went from being a franchise on the rise with a promising future to officially rebuilding mode.
The good news for Wolves fans is you still have Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns is a generational talent and a franchise player that turns 23 in November. He improved considerably last season earning All-NBA 3rd team honors and his first All-Star appearance. The Wolves main focus should be moving Butler and getting some good assets back that can be paired with Towns. Hire a GM who is committed to developing this young talent on the roster, and hire a young coach that shares in that vision.
As for Jimmy Butler, we are going to have to wait and see how all this shakes out. The Wolves will do their do diligence to move him right away. They do not need this distraction coming into training camp and possibly carrying on all season into the trade deadline.