One of the most common questions surrounding Jimmy Butler‘s trade demand is why didn’t he ask the Minnesota Timberwolves earlier?
Many have wondered why the public did not hear about his desire to leave the team until mid-September, but recent reports indicate the dysfunction was an ongoing issue and his unhappiness was expressed far earlier in the offseason.
As the organization prepares for its first preseason game on October 3, they still haven’t dealt Butler — which, if and when it happens, would be to his third franchise in three seasons. But as always, there’s more to this story and the request didn’t come out of nowhere.
According to Sam Amick, the disgruntled star met with Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau roughly a month before the original reports surfaced. Amick was told that this conversation was largely Butler telling his coach, who also serves as the Wolves’ president of basketball operations, that he wanted out (via The Athletic):
“According to a source, the two men who spent four seasons together in Chicago had breakfast in Los Angeles shortly after Butler underwent a minor surgery on his right shooting hand in early August… Butler, who takes great pride in his willingness to be brutally honest even when the truth might hurt, believed he had made it clear that he wanted out. But Thibodeau, whose stubbornness is nothing short of legendary, swears he didn’t see it that way and continued hoping that the situation could be rectified.”
But the writing was on the wall and there were several signs that the relationship with Butler couldn’t be salvaged. By the end of the season, for example, the four-time All-Star reportedly took a separate plane home after Minnesota was eliminated from the postseason.
He also refused to participate in the team’s mandatory exit interviews and medical exams, per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski.
Many believe Butler put the team in an impossible situation where a deal is forced with limited time before the regular season begins. But the front office could have acted sooner, considering Butler had painted this exact picture much sooner than we were led to believe.