Jimmy Butler is doing everything he can to get traded out of Minnesota — including turning a team practice into a train wreck and yelling at players and the GM — while trying to spin it as some combination of competitiveness and leadership. We could talk about how real leaders like LeBron James or Tim Duncan would work to build up young talents like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins rather than tear them down, but that’s another discussion. Butler wants out and is doing whatever he can go get traded.
“Jimmy has a very valid point,” George said. “I’m on Jimmy’s side. It’s not coming from a place where he’s going against an organization…
“Jimmy’s a guy, his whole career, he made it into the league off work, off him having to grind and scratch and claw to get to where he’s at,” George said. “And then he sees the potential he has around him and he just wants guys to match that because if guys are skilled and have that ‘it’ like KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) has, like Andrew Wiggins has, they have that ‘it’ that a lot of guys don’t have, now they just have to match it with what Jimmy’s bringing to the table. I’m all for what Jimmy is trying to do over there.”
A player has another player’s back. Shocking. Also, remember Butler and George were teammates at the 2016 Rio Olympics, they know each other well.
Butler is frustrated with Towns and Wiggins — and with Wiggins in particular, everyone gets that. The whole league is down on him, Wiggins seems to regress each season and does not show a real passion for the game. But Towns? The guy who averaged 21.3 points and 12.3 rebounds a game shooting 54 percent overall and better than 40 percent from three? Butler doesn’t want to play with this guy?
Which gets back to my point from the first paragraph — if Butler wants to prove he’s a leader, working hard for a trade not how he shows it. Maybe there is something more here, because if it’s about KAT and Wiggins than Butler has to take on some of the blame. Berating guys at practice is not leadership, it is not how to motivate every player to pull the same direction on the rope. Even Kobe figured that out, despite his hard-driving style. Does Towns take it far too easy on the defensive end? Yes. His game has plenty of room to improve — and he still made All-NBA Third Team. Butler can win with this guy, but it’s going to take real leadership to show him how to win, and so far Butler has not done that well enough. Neither has Thibodeau. That’s as much on them as KAT.