My way or the highway. This appears to be the motto of everyone involved in Minnesota right now. The most likely scenario right now is a trade and the decision to be made is between Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony Towns.
NBA insider Shams Charania reported: “There’s been a lot of uncertainty around Jimmy Butler all summer.”. He describes today’s meeting between Jimmy Butler and Timberwolves brass as “a last-ditch meeting for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tom Thibodeau, and how they respond and how Jimmy responds to it will be interesting.” This is the last year for Butler under contract and as he is an unrestricted free agent next summer both sides want some clarity on the direction the team is going on. Butler just turned 29 four days ago and he is in win-now mode. If today’s meeting does not end well, you can expect a trade to happen during this season (the sooner the better). But who should the Wolves trade? Charania also reported this: “Karl-Anthony Towns, who’s one of the top talents in the league, has yet to sign to sign his rookie max extension, which should be a no-brainer, and I’m told there won’t be any decision on that until this Jimmy Butler situation resolves itself.”
It is no secret that KAT and Jimmy don’t mesh well together. Here are just a few examples of their ”chemistry” on the court:
The Timberbulls situation
After leaving Chicago Thibs was one of the most coveted coaches in the league. He took his time picking a situation and in the meantime toured the league, visited many teams and reportedly evolved his views on rest, offensive spacing and all the trends that started to dominate the league. He went into Minnesota and became the coach and president of basketball operations. All the control was in his hands and he had two high-potential players in Towns and Wiggins to build around. Soon we learned all the touring didn’t rub off as much as the PR campaign would lead to believe. All the staples of the Thibs way were there – players were playing a lot of minutes, defensive schemes were insisted on and any mistake resulted in not-so-pleasant feedback. Thibs obviously has a way so he started bringing in players that fit his vision. Instead of changing himself, he decided to change the team. The most important part of creating the TimberBulls was bringing in Jimmy Butler, Thibs soul mate on the court, a hard-working intense personality that does not pick words. Guess how that meshed with two millennials. Reports came out that Butler is “frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates.” Who would’ve seen that coming?
Thibs continued adding former Bulls player in Rose, Gibson and most recently Deng. It seems he is trying to surround his young stars with former Bulls and is hoping they will change their mindset and approach. Insanity is often defined as repeating the same thing and expecting a different result. Soon the approach will have to be changed and there are a few possible outcomes.
There are three options: Butler trade, KAT trade or no trade.
No trade seems very unlikely as the locker room is obviously divided and that situation is unsustainable. Keeping both players, having another bad season and then losing Butler in free agency would seem inevitable. This would lead to an implosion and after this season head would roll.
KAT trade would mean ownership was convinced that KAT has a significant character flaw (not aggressive enough for a superstar) and decided to cut bait and really let Thibs do things his way. If this happens then Jimmy and Thibs need to be appointed chief negotiators between Israel and Palestine.
Jimmy trade is the most likely of scenarios. After today’s meeting Jimmy realises that things will not change enough, does not give assurances Timberwolves will be in the lead to sign him in the summer and the Wolves decide not to lose an asset for nothing. This would also imply that Thibs’s position in the organization has weakened and he is likely to (at least) lose his President of Basketball Operations role.
Ok, ok, technically there is a fourth option – there is no trade, Jimmy and Thibs get hooked on Instagram and realise how millennials operate in today’s world, turns out KAT and Wiggins binged the entire Netflix documentary library and realise life is a constant struggle. Everyone meets half-way and after a long ”no, it was my fault” they win in the Finals against the surprise of the season Cavaliers that play even better now that LeBron-the-ball-hog left and JR Smith had his MVP season.