Jon Krawczynski reports in the Athletic that a meeting is scheduled between Jimmy Butler, Tom Thibodeau, and Scott Layden on Monday. According to the piece the meeting is:
to “have honest conversations” about the All-Star’s future with the team, league sources told The Athletic.
On the one hand, if there is honesty, and everyone gains clarity, that’s a good thing. There are a lot of moving parts of this organization that desperately need to get on the same page.
On the other hand, this kind of meeting doesn’t take place if things are going well. Butler will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, and this meeting could very well result in him telling the Wolves that he does not intend to re-sign with them. Certainly there will be an airing of some grievances at the very least.
If Butler informs them he is likely headed elsewhere, does that spur the Wolves to trade him now, or at least by the deadline? You would think so, but then Thibs is also fighting for his job and wants to maximize wins. They certainly would not be selling high under the circumstances, and it might be difficult to pull the trigger on what appears to be a substandard trade. Still, getting something is better than nothing, and if he is honest about leaving, and the Wolves still let him play out the season with them, it’s not a good look. He
Complicating matters is this: One of the reasons Thibs is still employed (in addition to his huge contract) is that he is seen as the key to keeping Butler. If that isn’t going to happen, does Glen Taylor want a guy who might very well be a lame duck negotiating his exit via trade?
Meanwhile there is no word on Karl-Anthony Towns and his extension. He requested a meeting earlier in the summer, but apparently Butler is going first.
I’ve written before and still believe that more or less nobody is happy in the organization. The players by and large do not get along, highlighted most recently by this KAT-Butler beef, but going deeper than that. Many of them are unhappy with Thibs, who exacts a high fun tax for players and fans alike. This is why Jamal Crawford opted out of his deal—he was not having fun.
Perhaps this meeting temporarily salves some wounds, KAT signs his deal, everyone says the right things, and the season gets off to a winning start which further helps the environment.
But at the risk of being labelled, once again, too negative, I have a hard time seeing this end well. Thibs is the wrong guy, nobody is happy including the owner, and I suspect we’re in for a chaotic season.