Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau said he expected Jimmy Butler to report if not traded within a week of training camp opening. For now, Butler is on an excused absence, supposedly to recover from his hand injury but more likely because of his trade request.
But it seems at least plausible Butler won’t be traded that soon.
Throughout trade talks, Minnesota Timberwolves president and coach Tom Thibodeau has continued to try and recruit Butler to ease off his trade demand and return to practice with the team, league sources said. Butler has yet to attend a Timberwolves workout and wants to sit out until the franchises executes a trade for him.
I still think the Timberwolves will trade Butler before this escalates further, but there’s plenty of confusion about Minnesota’s intentions. I can’t rule out anything.
If the Timberwolves require Butler to report, he could simply show up. Or it could get far more complex. As I previously explained:
If he withholds playing services for 30 days after training camp begins, he won’t accrue a year of service and can’t become a free agent next offseason. He couldn’t sign with another professional basketball team unless Minnesota agreed.
But Butler would have options, too. He could – a la Mo Williams with the Cavaliers – undergo surgery and claim he’s not healthy enough to report. Players, especially ones as damaged as Butler, often have medical issues to clean up. That could mean embellishing the effect of the hand surgery or undergoing a new surgery altogether. An elective surgery could legitimately sideline Butler. Claiming Butler is actually healthy enough to report when he says he isn’t could get quite messy if the team objects.
Again, I doubt it gets that far. But, the more time that passes without evident and significant progress on a trade, the more likely we must take the possibility of an escalated standoff.