Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: there is nothing exciting happening in regards to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s been just over a week since the Wolves agreed to terms with Euro standout and human flamethrower James Nunnally, and since then, the #kahntent possibilities have been less frequent than smiles from Tom Thibodeau.
While a more skilled, hard-working hoops writer may try to break down how the newest Wolf fits into next season’s rotation, that’s not why Canis pays me the big blog boy bucks. For me personally, I’m far more concerned with the elements of NBA fandom that make it so intriguing to follow on a daily basis — drama, pettiness, and overreacting to social media-based storylines.
Which Wolves player is the latest to have their social media activity come across my desk at Canis HQ? Who else but our own Jimmy G. Butler!
Meanwhile, in the comments section on Instagram... pic.twitter.com/NG38bIb31r— Kyle Theige (@kyletheige) August 13, 2018
Oh boy. Without further ado, it’s time for another round of the ever-so-popular NBA offseason game, “Something or Nothing?”
While the post itself is fairly harmless (Jimmy bashes his friends nonstop on his Instagram page), responding to trolls in the comments section (about a hot-button topic nonetheless) is definitely something. If we’re going to roast Kevin Durant for continuously responding to trolls on social media, why can’t we do the same to Jimmy Butler?
Listen, I pride myself on bringing as much Wolves-related optimism to this site as anyone, but I’m also not naïve. Is this latest “incident” solely based on an innocent back-and-forth on social media? Yes. But as your grandma always said, “if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.” From a Wolves perspective, this is just the latest example that suggests a huge ducking storm is approaching at rapid speed.
As Bobby Marks pointed out last week, with the date of the NBA’s opening night now confirmed, the deadline for rookie extensions is set for Monday, October 15 at 6:00 pm ET. That means exactly two months from today (or 61 calendar days) until the deadline passes for Karl-Anthony Towns to sign the max extension that is currently collecting dust on a table somewhere inside Mayo Clinic Square. If the Wolves and Towns fail to come to an agreement before this deadline, the All-Star big man will become a Restricted Free Agent next summer.
But this inevitable storm I’m talking about is coming much sooner than October 15. The NBA also announced its “key dates” for the upcoming season, including September 25 — when NBA training camps open. In a little over a month from now, all of the Wolves players will be back in Minneapolis, face-to-face rather than face-to-screen, gearing up for what projects to be the most intriguing season in franchise history.
Before they roll the balls out onto the court though, a bunch of high paid, multi-millionaire adults will need to get into the same room and air out some significant differences, or this entire experiment is headed for a disastrous ending. There is very little precedent in modern history to have these types of passive-aggressive, jabbing antics contribute to successful team-building, whether it be in professional basketball or the business world.
Just recently the Lakers faced somewhat of a similar situation with two of their younger stars, and before it could blossom out of control, they pulled both players in, addressed the situation privately, and got it resolved. Proactive leadership… what a concept!
Coming off their first playoff series in over a decade, this summer was supposed to be one of celebration and excitement — a building block off of the most successful season in thirteen years. Hell, the Phoenix Suns, coming off a humiliating 21-61 season, turned the news of Devin Booker signing a max extension into a week-long Twitter celebration. Why is it the middle of August and we have yet to see any movement on the Towns extension? Why are these rifts behind the scenes not being addressed head-on during the slowest time of the NBA calendar in order to protect and promote the team’s best player and most valuable asset?
No, instead the front office has chosen the path littered mostly with silence, denial, and refutation. If the joke is truly on us and there’s no tension or rift behind closed doors, then why not come out publically and simply say so? How does this current management style promote anything other than lack of trust and detachment for both the players and the fans?
With all that said, I honestly do believe this entire situation, this entire gray cloud that currently hovers over the Target Center, can be washed away. But it sure as hell isn’t going to happen organically or overnight. Karl-Anthony Towns is never going to actually turn down this max extension, but his actions (or lack thereof) so far this summer speaks volumes. It’s an ugly precedent when a franchise has to wait all summer for their prized young talent to officially accept $150 million dollars. For the Wolves, who faced the same issue last summer with Andrew Wiggins, this is becoming far too common.
While not every single rumor you’ve read online since the Wolves season ended can be backed up entirely by facts, these stories also don’t simply create themselves out of thin air. Let’s hope Glen Taylor is monitoring this whole situation even half as closely as us social media sleuths.
And with all that said, this latest post by Jimmy Butler (which was almost certainly sent solely with his left hand) could simply be nothing at all. Butler has shown throughout his career that he enjoys the additional attention and craves confrontation, so this could all be another example of “Jimmy being Jimmy.” Not every action in life (or on social media) has a specific agenda, and maybe Jimmy was just clapping back at a stupid commenter. A classic case of “nothing to see here, folks!”
But I’ll ask you this: If every room in your house is filled with smoke, do you think it’s just poor circulation, or is it a sign that there’s some real fires burning inside?