After weeks of seriously contemplating his future in Minnesota, Butler requested a trade from the Timberwolves and informed Thibodeau of his decision on Tuesday in a meeting in Los Angeles, league sources told The Athletic. Players within the locker room first began to hear whispers of Butler’s plans last week, according to sources. Butler has given the Timberwolves a list of teams that could interest him. The Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers are expected as desired destination, and could extend to the Miami Heat and others, sources said. He’s long held a level of desire to potentially play in Los Angeles, a scenario those around him discussed internally as a Bulls free agent in 2015.
There were reports of friction between Butler, Towns and Wiggins, but sources say that is not the main reason Butler has decided to move on. Butler was hoping for a renegotiation and extension of his contract this summer, one that would have raised his salary for 2018-19 to $30 million and added another four years and $145 million on to that. But the Timberwolves would have had to cut an enormous amount of salary to pull that off and deemed it unreasonable if they wanted to stay competitive in the near term.
Butler met with Thibodeau on Tuesday in Los Angeles, and informed him that he didn't want to start the season with the Timberwolves and hoped to be traded to a big market team that would want to sign him in the summer. ... Miami has also been a team with interest in Butler, league sources said, but the Heat don't have the salary cap space in July to pursue him.
The Clippers, Knicks and Nets have differing levels of interest in Butler as a free agent, each prioritizing him in different ways, league sources said. ... Butler, 30, wants the five-year, $190 million maximum extension that could come with a trade to a new team, but there is some reluctance to teams to commit $40 million-plus annually as Butler reaches his mid-30's, league sources told ESPN.
He is enamored with the idea of playing a central role in a big market, sources said. Butler had once imagined playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but LeBron James' arrival as the franchise's cornerstone made it less appealing for Butler in the prime of his career, league sources said.
Darren Wolfson: As someone with a vested interest texted, "Glen must be beside himself." Definitely curious to eventually hear the owner's thoughts. #Twolves
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota's Jimmy Butler has three preferred destinations for a trade, league sources tell ESPN: The Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks. Those three teams have max cap space to sign Butler as a free agent in July.
Butler and Thibodeau met on Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss his situation, according to multiple sources. Over the last several weeks, Butler began to seriously contemplate his future with the Timberwolves and a potential trade request, league sources said. It was in that meeting that Butler expressed a desire to be traded, telling Thibodeau that he does not intend to sign a long-term extension with the Wolves next summer. He has provided a list of one to three teams with which he would be open to signing a long-term deal, sources said.
Thibodeau was initially resistant to the idea, according to sources, but Butler is determined to find a new home. The Timberwolves are scheduled to have media day on Monday and their first training camp practice on Tuesday, so the clock is ticking.
Shams Charania: Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves, league sources tell me and @ Jon Krawczynski. Butler has given Minnesota a list of one-to-three teams with whom he's open to signing extension, in anticipation of trade.
Shams Charania: Less than one week before Timberwolves' training camp begins. After weeks of contemplating future in Minnesota, Butler informed Tom Thibodeau on Tuesday, sources said.
Jon Krawczynski: Tom Thibodeau has been resistant to the idea of trading Butler, we're told. With media day on Monday and training camp set to being on Tuesday, the clock is ticking.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Minnesota's Tom Thibodeau is traveling to Los Angeles to meet with Jimmy Butler today, league sources tell ESPN. Original plan had been a meeting in Minneapolis, but that changed in the past 24 hours.
Shams Charania: There’s been a lot of uncertainty around Jimmy Butler all summer. He hasn’t been back to Minnesota. This is going to be a telltale week for him. Very much so, I’m told, this a last-ditch meeting for the Minnesota Timberwolves and Tom Thibodeau, and how they respond and how Jimmy responds to it will be interesting. 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.
A meeting set between Minnesota Timberwolves four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau is expected to set the tone for Butler's final season under contract -- and his impending free agency in July, league sources told ESPN on Saturday. Just days before the start of training camp in Minneapolis, Butler and his agent, Bernie Lee, are planning to meet with Thibodeau on Monday in Minneapolis for what's expected to be a serious conversation on the franchise's fragile state, sources said.
The Thibodeau-Butler relationship has been largely strong since the Bulls drafted Butler in 2011, but Butler's partnership with young star Karl-Anthony Towns has been strained and remains an obstacle to the 2018-19 team's success --- and perhaps the ability to sign Butler to a new contract next summer, league sources said.
The Timberwolves are negotiating a rookie extension with Towns that could be completed before the start of the season. Rival executives believe that Butler could come available on the market by the February trade deadline if Minnesota fears that it will lose him for nothing in July free agency.
The Butler-Towns tension is paramount, but it's hardly the only organizational drama that's threatening to undermine the franchise's current structure. Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden -- so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Jimmy Butler's meeting w/ Minnesota management early next week as @ Jon Krawczynski reports. Butler, Tom Thibodeau have had a strong relationship for years, but there are organizational issues that need to be sorted. Source on meeting: "Whatever needs to be communicated...will be."
With the opening of training camp 10 days away, it appears the Wolves and Butler have reached a fork in the road. He can become an unrestricted free agent next summer and has long said that playing for a team that can contend for championships is his highest priority at this stage of his career. It’s widely known how close Butler and Thibodeau have been ever since Butler was drafted by the Bulls, so the assumption can only be that he wants to hear the coach’s vision for how the upcoming season will play out.
In the meeting Monday, the Timberwolves will have to lay out a plan that shows a clear path to contention that will get Butler to commit to plunging into another season in Minnesota. But the Timberwolves will also have an enormous decision to make. If they don’t believe Butler is committed to be in Minnesota long-term, they would have to at least consider moving him. Thibodeau traded Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 overall pick (Lauri Markkanen) for Butler and the No. 16 overall pick (Justin Patton) last year.
Media reports throughout the summer have, using unnamed sources, suggested Butler is unhappy with his young teammates’ will and dedication and has decided he won’t play in Minnesota after this season and wants to unite with pal Kyrie Irving or other stars elsewhere. “I’ve been around a long time; I don’t buy into any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “You have to distinguish what’s real and what’s not real. You never heard any of that come from Jimmy’s mouth. It’s always a source close to Jimmy. If Jimmy has something to say to someone, he usually says it directly …
Adrian Wojnarowski: "Jimmy Butler in Minnesota: Who knows how it starts out this season there, but they may have to look at doing something with him. If they don't have a commitment from him, do they have to look at doing something with him by the trade deadline? Do they risk losing him for nothing? You look back, they gave up a lot for him. That deal with the Bulls at the time, they gave up some really good pieces. It's hard to let that walk out the door for nothing."
What's the feeling you get about KAT - amendable situation or not? Jon Krawczynski: I don’t think we’ve reached a breaking point between Towns and the organization. Had that been the case, I could have seen him canceling the Minnesota basketball camp to avoid coming back to town. As reported at The Athletic during summer league, the Wolves have put a max contract offer in front of his representatives. But as KAT first made clear to me in a phone call from Italy, and as he reiterated last week in Plymouth, there is still some communication that needs to take place before pen is put to paper.
Jon Krawczynski: Everyone in the organization expects Towns to sign the extension. No rookie has passed up this much money before and Towns doesn’t figure to be the first. While he has not provided specifics on what he wants to discuss, one would think Tom Thibodeau’s decision to fire Legarza, a close confidante of KAT’s during his first three NBA seasons, would probably be on that list.
Darren Wolfson: We were warned that #Twolves All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns would only take questions about his camp today. So specific questions about Butler, Legarza, Thibs, contract extension, etc. were tough. But he did offer up a little something at the very end [when Towns concluded, "I'm very proud of the things I've been able to do so far [in Minnesota], but I [have] a lot of things that need to be talked about."]
Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t.
Another source of friction with the Wolves has been the way that Thibodeau used his bench last season, which has long been a criticism of Thibodeau, carried over from his time in Chicago. He rides his starting unit hard, and all five Wolves starters averaged 33.0 minutes or more. The Wolves had three players — Butler, Wiggins and Towns — in the top 14 in minutes per game last season.
Brian Windhorst: "Has anybody noticed what's going on in Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns and that organization?" Zach Lowe: "Darren Wolfson [veteran reporter in Minnesota] alluded to a lot of it on a podcast a couple weeks ago. I said on a podcast recently that I just have a gut feeling something crazy is gonna happen there this summer. It's not in a good place right now internally." Windhorst: "If I were the Celtics, I would make a quiet call to Minnesota."
Jon Krawczynski: Butler also went to bat for Thibs: "Ain’t no coach in the world that can make somebody play hard. Ain’t no coach in the world that can make anybody want it."
Jon Krawczynski: More Butler standing tall for Thibs on the defensive issues: "To tell you the truth, we haven’t done it all year. ... All in all, we’ve just got to want to play defense. Thibs, he don’t got too much to do with that."
After some hours to reflect, and after a lengthy film session, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau was still talking about toughness — or the lack thereof — in the way of Monday’s loss to Memphis.
“There is a preseason intensity,’’ he said. “Then there is the start of the regular season. And now you have a playoff racing going on. You’re facing a guy like [Grizzlies center Marc] Gasol, who has a lot of pride. And the physicality? We didn’t do a good job with that.’’
Nate Duncan: Do you think that Andrew Wiggins, a couple of years from now, is on [the Minnesota Timberwolves]? Do you think there's a chance they might move on from him, given how he's played this year? Marc Stein: I think that's something that people will be looking at and I think other teams will be coming after him. Because he's, at best, gonna be the third option if you're playing with Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns. [....] I don't think there's any question that Wiggins' future is gonna be talked about. He's under contract now—it's a big number but for some teams, that appeals, to be able to get a guy when there is contract certainty and you know you've got him, there will be teams who want to trade for that.
On Wednesday, a radio remark on 1500ESPN that said Wolves forward Andrew Wiggins has whispered to teammates he’s unhappy being a third option behind Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns ricocheted around the internet. After Thursday’s practice, Thibodeau called the claim and its sourcing “total nonsense” and said, “I know Andrew’s character. There’s no way in the world Andrew is saying any of that, particularly from a guy who’s taken the most shots on our team.”
Kevin O’Connor: And not only that, it's more than that...yes, you're playing these guys for a ridiculous amount of minutes, but you know what else you're also doing? You're really disrupting the locker room. A lot of the guys in that bench who probably deserve to play, or thought that they have may have been getting opportunity and minutes, especially when there have been injuries? I've heard rumblings that there's some chemistry issues in that locker room, maybe a little bit with guys against Towns a little bit because of his effort, maybe a little bit with some of the guys on that bench unhappy with playing time and opportunity. There's issues there and it all, in my opinion, from what I can tell, derives from Thibs with the usage, with the system, with the opportunity.
On Sirius XM Radio, Sam Mitchell said he thinks it could influence Kevin Garnett's decision to retire, but as of the last time they spoke, K.G. remained undecided. "Last time I talked to him, he hadn't made up his mind. I just think the way last year ended with the owner at the very last minute -- and people don't understand, we all felt pretty good about us. Myself, Milt Newton, and the coaching staff, we all felt pretty good about us coming back. We felt like we did a good enough job to at least earn us a couple of years, a year or two, to keep that thing rolling. And I just think KG was just so hurt by the way things happened."
"For people to send you messages as if you were going to be back and your staff was going to be back and we had everything going in the right direction, and to get a phone call [from owner Glen Taylor] two hours before your last game basically saying, 'I've changed my mind and I'm going in a different direction,' it just kind of knocked us all for a loop. We've all recovered from it and moved on but if you know Kevin, Kevin is very sensitive and he's very loyal. And there was a lot of people in that organization that was let go, and the way it was done just left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouth."
"To be honest with you, I don't know how he's going to deal with that. Kevin takes that stuff personally and it's going to be interesting to see ultimately what he decides to do. It's a shame that if he doesn't come back and play, that his last year in Minnesota ended the way it did."
July 26, 2021 | 7:35 pm EDT Update
Cade Cunningham has been the public favorite to go No. 1 to the Detroit Pistons since the lottery. While Detroit is surely doing its due diligence, is there any reason to doubt that Cunningham will be the first name we hear on Thursday night? Matt Babcock: I expect Cade Cunningham to be the top overall pick in this draft, selected by the Detroit Pistons. However, I’ve been told that the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder have been knocking the Pistons’ door down. Rumor has it that the Thunder offered the No. 6 pick and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in exchange for No. 1 — the Pistons declined. If the Pistons receive an offer better than that one, they may need to seriously consider it.
Scottie Barnes has moved up to No. 4 in your latest mock draft, breaking through what is generally considered to be a four-player top tier of Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs. What inspired you to make that change? Babcock: Scottie Barnes’ draft stock seems to be at an all-time high. There’s a lot of buzz swirling around that he’ll be going to either the Toronto Raptors at No. 4 or Orlando Magic at No. 5. I’m not completely convinced that Barnes will end up in Toronto at No. 4; however, it’s what I decided to go with for now. Another thing worth noting is that I’ve heard Toronto is very high on Evan Mobley, who I do not think will be available at No. 4. I could see a trade between Toronto and either Houston or the Cleveland Cavaliers making sense.
Five teams (Oklahoma City, Orlando, Golden State, New York and Houston) currently own multiple first-round picks. Do you expect movement from any of these squads? Babcock: There has been so much trade chatter this year among those teams, but most of the other teams, too. I fully expect there to be a ton of movement prior to, or during, this year’s draft.
However, two other names also are swirling around. Moses Moody has been someone league sources have said the Grizzlies are very interested in. He’s one of the most intriguing 3-and-D guys in the draft. In his one year at Arkansas, he made 35.8 percent of his 3-pointers, and nearly 50 percent of his shots came from beyond the arc. Nobody is blown away by 35.8 percent, but scouts/executives believe in his shot and are encouraged by the 81.2 percent he shot from the free throw line. Free-throw percentage is often an indicator of someone discovering long-distance accuracy.
Charlotte Hornets GM Mitch Kupchak has been around the NBA for the better part of five decades, dating back to his days in the late 1970s with Washington. So when he witnesses something a bit unusual, as he has for a hefty portion of these past two months since the season ended, it should be noted.
“Our gym has been just full of activity for the last 6-8 weeks,” Kupchak said Monday during his pre-draft availability. “Our coach has done a great job of setting up times for players to come in. Starting with treatment, training room, migrating to the weight room, then going upstairs (to the gym) and getting shots in. Tuesdays and Thursdays, they have fun, they scrimmage. Unlike any gym that I’ve been around in a long, long time.
“Players like living in Charlotte. They are staying here and they are coming in every day to work out. Even on a Friday — which we call a flex day — in which a player might want to get away for a weekend a lot of these guys are still coming in on Friday.”
That includes LiAngelo Ball. As first reported by SI.com’s All Hornets, LaMelo’s older brother is expected to be on Charlotte’s summer league roster when it’s finalized before the team heads off to Las Vegas in just under two weeks. “Melo and his brother LiAngelo — I call him Gelo — he showed up about a month ago,” Kupchak said. “We allow our players to have a workout partner. They can come in during the morning on odd hours or the afternoon or at night and come back. And they would be working out together. And then on scrimmage days, they would scrimmage.”