It was a clear Summer night, a warm July date
Aggregators on the web, trying to create
Some kahntent for their sites, for readers to consume
About Jimmy being mad, and the Wolves impending doom
Through two short months, the 2018 offseason has already provided an avalanche of NBA kahntent, led by a blockbuster draft day trade, the third fallen LeBromino, and the Boogie Man moving to Silicon Valley.
With most of the big storylines now behind us, the NBA offseason has (expectedly) slowed to a snails pace, with this tweet being the highlight of Monday’s NBA Twitter:
The Boston Celtics and guard Walt Lemon Jr. have agreed a two-way NBA contract, league sources tell Yahoo. Lemon played five games for the New Orleans Pelicans last season.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) July 16, 2018
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But with the NBA news cycle no longer bearing much fruit, the Internet has been scrambling for ideas, trying to dissect podcast quotes or scour Instagram activity for something, anything that will keep their readers entertained. These online “aggregators” simply pull related bits of kahntent from all over the web and display them or link to them as their own, often times singling out a certain image or quote without detailing the broader picture.
For example, we all remember a few months back when the highly-respect Brian Windhorst dropped this not-so-informed take on the Lowe Post podcast, “has anybody noticed what’s going on in Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns and the organization? If I were the Celtics, I would make a quiet call to Minnesota.”
Windhorst added further fuel to the fire by doubling-down. “I would just say, if the Celtics are looking for opportunities and sort of lay and wait, that might be one (Minnesota and Karl-Anthony Towns) right there. I don’t think Anthony Davis is going anywhere, anytime soon. Karl Towns, that might be a different story.”
Windhorst has made a successful career on well-informed stories and opinions primarily revolving around LeBron James (both of whom attended high school at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in Akron, Ohio), but he has also displayed a tendency to start fires in places where little to no fuel exists. Regardless, these quotes to Zach Lowe led to an aggravating amount of aggregation online, including:
While the Windhorst quotes created a sizable amount of smoke, it was Minnesota’s own Jon Krawczynski who extinguished the nonsense with informed reporting via The Athletic that “The Timberwolves have no interest in trading Towns and Towns has not come close to making such a request, so all signs point to a deal (max contract extension) eventually getting done.”
The moral of this story? Not everything you read online is true — some of it is actually completely made up — which leads me to our next example.
Just last Friday, another one of Minnesota’s own, Darren Wolfson, casually dropped his own #WolfBomb at 11:49am PST.
#Twolves All-Star Jimmy Butler has officially turned down the Wolves' 4-year, $110M range extension offer, per owner Glen Taylor. Full interview posting soon, which includes stuff on KAT extension talks, Thibs, filling out the roster, and #LosLynx.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 13, 2018
If you had just woken up from a coma at 11:45 am on Friday and had no context of Wolves-related happenings, this news would appear to be an enormous deal. Realizing that the standard tease for his podcast may have stirred up seismic activity on the web, Wolfson attempted to provide some (much needed) context exactly 21 minutes later.
(con.) Jimmy/his side expressed gratitude for the #Twolves extending such a nice offer. Logically speaking, it just makes sense to wait, even while betting on maintaining health. He can make a lot more $$ here or elsewhere next July.— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) July 13, 2018
However, during those 1,260 seconds between tweets, the damage...
Jimmy Butler showing just how unhappy he is with the Timberwolves after turning down a 4-year $110-million contract extension pic.twitter.com/1SDhrrh8WA— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) July 13, 2018
In the 21 minutes it took Doogie to provide additional context to a fiery quote, three separate accounts with nearly EIGHT MILLION combined followers tweeted out the same blazing take without any context of why Butler would make such a decision, leaving Wolves fans collectively asking:
Thankfully, a wave of common sense began to flow through Twitter, led by our own John Meyer:
Jimmy Butler could sign a 4-year, $140M deal with another team as an unrestricted free agent next offseason OR a 5-year, $188M deal with Minnesota. So what do you think he's going to do with a 4/$110M offer today besides crumple it up like a box score & toss it over his shoulder?— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) July 13, 2018
Even big fish like ESPN joined the common sense parade, providing (albeit a day later) some additional information on Butler’s contract decision:
Jimmy Butler turned down a 4-year, $100M extension.— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 14, 2018
He could make nearly $90M more if he re-signs in 2019. pic.twitter.com/9P5KXY8CEZ
Regardless, as is common place in today’s society, the Twitterverse (and the news cycle in general) once again dissected clips from Wolfson’s latest podcast with Glen Taylor (which was really good by the way) and turned it into Grade-A clickbait, despite failing to mention any context or reasoning as to why the decision was made.
While examples like these two in sports are not nearly as significant as the happenings in politics, the economy, or the world at large, it is an important reminder nonetheless of the world we now live in with online aggregation: less facts = more clicks = more money.
Going back to the Wolves - do we really know what Jimmy’s intentions are going forward? Not really. But personally, I will say that if news had broke about Butler signing that extension and thus turning down nearly $90 million more next summer, I would have actually been MORE concerned than I currently am. A (soon-to-be) 29-year old player, who has played 68 or more games only twice in seven seasons, leaving THAT much money on the table? Does he know something about his legs that the Wolves don’t? Does he think his window as an elite two-way player is smaller than we may tend to believe?
In the end, Butler didn't sign the contract for a multitude of reasons (almost 90 million to be exact), all of which make perfect sense. He’s an alpha who always bets on himself and uses those chips on his shoulder to find new levels of greatness. That’s just Jimmy. The Wolves knew the risk/reward when they traded for him last summer, and while the risk of losing him is becoming a possibility, the reward of ending a 13-year playoff drought and elevating the franchise out of the NBA gutters should not be forgotten.
Will Butler eventually leave next summer? Who knows. If he does bolt, does that empower Glen Taylor to re-shuffle the deck, replace the current regime, and pivot towards an expedited rebuild solely focused around the franchise’s best player (Towns)? Maybe. But with the most important Wolves All-Star nearly locked up for the foreseeable future, the Wolves will now have to navigate the upcoming season with the uncertainty surrounding another star player, much like the the Celtics with Kyrie Irving, the Hornets with Kemba Walker, the Spurs with Kawhi Leonard, the Mavericks with DeAndre Jordan, and the Thunder with Kevin Durant/Klay Thompson.
Player movement (and more broadly player empowerment) is the new way of the NBA world, and the Wolves, like the rest of us, are just living in it.