Report: Timberwolves decline Justin Patton’s third-year option

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Did the Timberwolves rip off the Bulls in their trade last year – Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick for Jimmy Butler and the No. 16 pick – like it seemed at the time?

Butler is the awesome player we believed him to be. LaVine looks like he’s blossoming. Dunn has progressed. That all must be work into the analysis.

But it depends what other factors you consider.

Do you treat Butler as a failed acquisition because he’s already holding out to try to advance a trade request? Or do you treat Minnesota’s dire situation as the consequence of other problems that happened well after the trade.

Do you count just the general values of the Nos. 7 and 16 picks in the 2017 draft? Or do you count the actual players selected?

No. 7 pick Lauri Markkanen had a promising rookie year in Chicago. No. 16 pick Justin Patton has repeatedly broken his foot, played only one NBA game and might fall out of the league altogether.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

Patton is the only 2017 first-rounder known to have his third-year option declined. (The Nuggets’ Tyler Lydon is the only other possibility.) This is extremely quick for a player selected as high as Patton to get cut loose.

But it’s just hard to justify guaranteeing him $3,117,240 next season.

Patton is just 21, and he can try to find a team to take a flier on him in unrestricted free agency next summer. First, he must get healthy. He also must vie for a job at center, where replacement level is highest by far. Both are tall orders. This might signal the end of his NBA career.

For the Timberwolves, maybe it was just bad injury luck. But this sure isn’t a feather in the cap of Tom Thibodeau, who’s on the hot seat.