ButlerGate: Day 158 (or, if you believe Tom Thibodeau, Day 9*).
Welcome back to our live coverage of the Jimmy Butler/Minnesota Timberwolves trade saga. Similar to the always accurate and never delusional Chris Sheridan, all of us have heard “incredible stuff” about the Butler situation, but how much of it is actually the truth and how much of is it click-seeking nonsense? That’s up for you to decide.
Anyway, as the title of this post suggests, we are currently enduring day 9* of this chaotic saga, meaning it’s been 9* days since Jimmy Butler sat down with his beloved coach Tom Thibodeau in Los Angeles and demanded a trade. Yes, 9* days.
Or... has it been longer? According to friend of the site and Minnesota’s own Jon Krawczynski, the Butler red flags began popping up 158 days ago, just after the Rockets eliminated the Wolves from the playoffs in five games. According to Jon’s sources, “after the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs in May, Butler did not fly with the team back to Minnesota, sources said. He took a flight to Los Angeles shorter after the game was over and refused to do the standard medical exam all players go through as part of their exit interviews.”
Krawczynski then added this very important nugget, “a few days later, he (Butler) started conveying his concern for the franchise and casting doubts on his willingness to stay long-term.”
While a lot of people have reported a lot of things during this drawn-out process, Jon has been extremely accurate in his work, and this latest domino is an important one. If Thibs and Scott Layden really had an inkling all summer that their All-Star small forward had no intentions of signing with the team long-term, they (the front office) should have made every effort possible to move Butler to recoup as many assets as possible to restore the franchise’s vault. Instead, they did what they so often have done during their reign as POBO/GM... nothing. And as a result, we now find ourselves here.
Where exactly is here? Well, again, it’s hard to truly tell. We know Jimmy wants out, and we know Glen wants to move on from him as fast as possible. We think Tom Thibodeau is playing hardbull (I mean hardball) in trade negotiations, but we aren’t sure if that’s because he wants the best deal possible, or if he truly thinks that this will all blow over.
But after that? No one really knows. The delight and enjoyment of your typical #WojBomb is that they appear out of nowhere, surprising you with a seismic amount of breaking news, throwing the league we all love into a brief period of complete chaos. Their overall greatness lies in their ability to appear out of nowhere and bring millions of NBA fans together in an instant.
This situation though feels... different. We are all actively waiting for the latest #WojBomb that starts off with “The Minnesota Timberwolves have agreed to send Jimmy Butler to,” to magically appear on our phones, but until it does, we are all left to play keyboard detective, trying to find clues in every single tweet, article, and/or podcast that pops up. With that in mind, the tweets below represent the most updated “info” we have on this continued circus:
ESPN Reporting w/ Zach Lowe: Minnesota’s asking price for Jimmy Butler remains too steep for teams. Minny seeks quality vets/top prospects/future assets/cap relief. Too high a price for interested teams, including Miami. Sources are skeptical of Thibodeau’s desire to make deal.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 27, 2018
This is the situation as of this morning. It could of course change on a dime. Not sure it's possible to exaggerate how volatile things are in Minnesota right now. https://t.co/ssWp3fyXwD— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) September 27, 2018
All the noise about Jimmy Butler yesterday was about Miami, but it’s clear Minnesota’s price tag remains extremely high. To highlight one rumored team, I’m told Philly is currently completely out of the JB situation and has never had any traction after preliminary discussions.— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) September 27, 2018
Speaking of Philly, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor mentioned on the latest Bill Simmons podcast today that when the 76ers threw their hat into the ring for the Butler sweepstakes, the Wolves countered asking for Ben Simmons (no relation). Brilliant!
Again, is any of this true? The one positive characteristic of the Wolves current front office has been their ability to withhold leaks, meaning a lot of these “reports” are coming from other teams/players/agents. If you wanted Jimmy Butler but didn’t have the assets to get him, would you be pissed off and text a major reporter that the Wolves are delusional? We don’t really know, but my current stance on this can be summed up pretty well in one single tweet:
Whether Thibodeau has no desire to trade Butler or whether he is just taking a hard line to get as much as possible, these reports from other front offices that say Thibodeau isn't playing nice are designed to get Glen Taylor to intervene and make a bad deal.— Sal (@Suspicious_Sal) September 27, 2018
MEANWHILE, while we are all left to decipher which major metropolitan airports have a Jamba Juice, the Wolves are actually preparing to play a real basketball game (crazy, right?) The team went #WheelsUp this afternoon, headed for California and their first preseason game against the Golden State Warriors this Saturday:
Almost that time.— Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) September 27, 2018
First trip ✈️ pic.twitter.com/F35jsW5dvw
Reports out of camp suggest positive reviews thus far for guys like Anthony Tolliver, Andrew Wiggins, and Josh Okogie. Derrick Rose continues to get reps as the team’s starting two-guard, giving long-time fans like myself PTSD of the days when Luke Ridnour trotted out as the team’s starting SG. I imagine that if (or when) the Wolves do trade Butler, a piece of that package will include a new SG for the Wolves, but as this situation has clearly shown, we all really know nothing (we’ve just heard incredible things.)
As the Wolves turn...