Karl Anthony-Towns denied Jimmy Butler sleeping with Towns’ girlfriend caused a rift between the Timberwolves teammates.
But that doesn’t mean the rift is nonexistent.
Towns reportedly won’t sign his rookie-scale extension until Minnesota handles the Butler situation, and the standoff apparently isn’t at all over haggling about contract terms, particularly what would happen if Towns qualifies next season for the super-max.
They’re offering him as much money as they can.
I’m led to believe that a big reason why he hasn’t signed it is that he – through his agent, Leon Rose – went to the Wolves and said, “Hey, I can’t coexist with Jimmy. Do something about it.” So, Figure out the Jimmy situation. On top of that – whether it’s right or wrong, this is the way he feels – that it’s been Jimmy and Thibs ganging up on him.
Towns can sometimes play passively, especially defensively. Two people who tend not to tolerate passive play, especially defensively, are Jimmy Butler and Tom Thibodeau. I’m not sure they’re ganging up on Towns as much as they’re each conveying similar messages individually.
That said, I can also see why Towns would feel like they’re ganging up on him.
Ideally, Thibodeau would have taken Towns’ message and worked with Butler to find a way to better communicate with the center. Towns is an elite young talent, and it’s worth making him happy.
But Butler’s trade request opens the door for another solution. Minnesota can just excise the problem, though it’d probably mean a talent downgrade.
The biggest issue is the Timberwolves didn’t heed Towns’ warning and find common ground for everyone. That seems to reflect poorly on Thibodeau as a connecter, a necessary skill for successful head coaches and team presidents.