The sharks are once again circling around the Minnesota Timberwolves, a franchise that has been NBA chum for most of its existence.
Once again, the Wolves are facing discontent from a star player, this time Jimmy Butler. Tom Thibodeau is in Los Angeles to meet with Butler and his agent (note that Butler forced Thibs out to L.A. when he theoretically has to be in Minnesota in less than a week for training camp) to discuss his future in Minnesota.
Butler, who will be a free agent next summer, is among the unhappy people in the organization, a list that appears quite long. We’ve been through it all by now: Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns’ mutual dislike, Thibs alienating, well, a lot of people both on and off the court, owner Glen Taylor’s disquiet with Thibs’ style.
It appears we are at some sort of breaking point. I don’t know what will (or has been) said at this meeting, but I would not be surprised if Butler informs Thibs to trade him now or lose him for nothing next summer.
The timing could not be more awkward, with training camps set to open in the next week around the league. The situation is awkward as well: Thibs is on the hot seat, with his relationship with Butler being one of the points in his favor. If there is a trade request, how does he handle it? Do we want him handling it? What are the alternatives at this point, and what will Glen Taylor do?
Looming over all of this is of course Towns’ extension, which remains unsigned.
Root. For. Chaos. Swinging between merely downtrodden and circus-like is the Wolves’ natural state, and here we are again.
At any rate, the sharks are circling.
This Hoopshype article suggests five potential landing spots, and frankly under the circumstances I would probably entertain any of them. To the Nets for DeMarre Carroll, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and a protected first? Sounds OK. To the Nuggets for a deal built around Gary Harris? Sure. The Sixers for a deal centering on Dario Saric or Markelle Fultz? Sign me up.
Over at Bullets Forever, they are discussing an Otto Porter deal, another trade I would absolutely make. In truth, I’m not sure they can get a deal like those with Butler a year from free agency, but if they can it makes things a lot easier.
As it stands, as long as the Wolves have a healthy Towns under contract, their roster situation isn’t terrible. They still have to figure out how to build around him (and get the most out of him, which is almost certainly going to require a different coach,) but he remains one of the most valuable guys in the NBA, and if he eventually signs his extension, it eases the pressure considerably.
With or without Butler, there will still be plenty of work to do, which the Wolves have never really done well, but at least they will have a centerpiece. Of course, we’ve said that before, and have little to show for it.