Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said they “wasted some time” trying to convince Jimmy Butler to stay.
Not only did they fail to persuade Butler… not only did they lose while dealing with the turmoil… they also passed on probably their best trade offer for the disgruntled star.
Before the season, the Heat offered Josh Richardson and protected first-round pick. But to satisfy the NBA’s salary-cap rules, Miami also had to include another player. Reportedly, that was Dion Waiters, who has a negative-value contract and would have dented Minnesota’s return.
But apparently the Timberwolves could have gotten Kelly Olynyk instead.
Marc Stein of The New York Times in his newsletter:
I’m told that Minnesota’s talks with the Heat largely collapsed when Thibodeau asked for a $5 million cash infusion from Miami as part of a deal that would have sent Richardson, Kelly Olynyk and a future first-rounder to the Wolves for Butler.
I’m not sure why this framed as Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau asking for $5 million. That money would have gone to Taylor. Why would Thibodeau care other than to appease his boss? However the money indirectly affected Thibodeau was only commensurate with how much it directly affected Taylor.
I’m also not sure why Minnesota pressed for the cash. This deal appears excellent without it, considering the circumstances.
Richardson looks like a breakout star, and he’s locked into a team-friendly contract for for more seasons. Olynyk – due $39,203,655 over the next three years – isn’t cheap, but he’s a good player. I picked him second for Sixth Man of the Year last season, and he’s still producing well this season. He’s far more valuable than Waiters, at least.
Perhaps, unreported elements of the Heat offer would have tilted it. We don’t know the protections on the first-round pick, for example. Maybe other players were included.
But this sure seems better than the package – headlined by Robert Covington and Dario Saric – the Timberwolves got from the 76ers for Butler.