All is not well with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Set aside jokes about head coach Tom Thibodeau adding former Chicago Bulls stalwarts to his young roster — rumors about stars Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns not getting along have been abundant.
Now, it appears that Butler will be sitting down with management to discuss next steps and what the future looks like in Minnesota.
Butler has one more season on his contract before a player option triggers for 2019-20. Butler can then opt out, and if he does not sign an extension with the Timberwolves before then it is likely that he will choose another team.
The issue at hand appears to be the divide between Butler and Towns. Specifically, Butler has been known to be a bit of a workout fiend, and he is a two-way player that dominates both ends of the floor. Towns is still working on his defensive abilities, and it has been rumored that Butler believes Towns does not work hard enough on that side of the floor.
There’s also some potential uneasiness from ownership in Thibodeau.
Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden — so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said.
We still have a long way to go before anything comes out of Minnesota. It’s not clear whether the Timberwolves would try to move quickly if Butler wants out, and there are serious doubts about whether the star guard would put Thibodeau in the same position Kawhi Leonard did to the San Antonio Spurs.
At least publicly, any vote of no-confidence from Butler would kill his trade value. As such, things are likely to be pushed under wraps if he really does want out right this minute. That’s not to say that league offices wouldn’t understand what’s really going on if that were the case, but it might relieve pressure from Minnesota for the time being.
It’s hard to say what will happen with the Timberwolves. They are unlikely to have a successful season with all of the flotsam that Thibodeau has brought in. They seem destined for a slow, painful death. Making Butler available could help reset things.