Supposedly all the key players in the Timberwolves’ organization are on the same page when it comes to granting Jimmy Butler’s trade request.
This was cleared up over the weekend when it was reported that Wolves basketball boss and head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden had been told by owner Glen Taylor that they were to begin seriously entertaining offers for Butler. Thibodeau, speaking at the Wolves’ media day on Monday, also made it sound as if the team’s chief decision-makers agreed on a plan of action.
It had been reported late last week that Thibodeau, who acquired Butler from Chicago in June 2017 after previously coaching him with the Bulls, was attempting to ignore trade calls, or at least telling Layden to do so, because Thibodeau had no interest in dealing one of his favorite players.
This wasn’t realistic in part because the relationship between Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns was fractured. Towns agreed to a super-maximum contract extension over the weekend and the thought was he was willing to do so because someone with the Wolves, probably Taylor, assured him that Butler wouldn’t be returning.
But is Thibodeau really on the same page as his owner?
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Monday night that at some point during the day Thibodeau had met with Butler, who was in town to take a physical, to try to convince the All-Star to eventually rejoin the team in the preseason.
Butler has made it clear he wants out and doesn’t want to take the court playing for the Timberwolves. Taylor has made it clear that he wants to accommodate Butler.
If Thibodeau is trying to gain leverage with other teams by making it look like Butler might stick in Minnesota, or he’s trying to create the perception that there are several teams willing to pay a high price for Butler, that’s one thing.
But it’s another if Thibodeau really is trying to hold onto Butler and ignoring what his boss has told him to do. Thibodeau might feel that convincing Butler to play out the final season of his contract in Minnesota gives the Wolves their only chance to make the playoffs this season.
Thibodeau might see this as the only way to save his job, even if it negatively impacts the franchise for the long term.
The issue is that Butler continues to tell Thibodeau he wants out of Minnesota. Maybe on Monday, Thibodeau finally got the message.