Team owner Glen Taylor has engaged in discussions with teams about a possible trade, but those teams have been rebuffed by Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden when contacted directly, a bizarre dynamic that has several executives around the league scratching their heads. Given the chaotic nature of the situation, Butler sought and has been granted permission not to appear at the team’s media day on Monday, when every player on the roster answers questions from the media and poses for photos with teammates.
Players on the team have been searching for answers, but Thibodeau has held firm to this point, sources said. Teams continue to reach out to the Wolves to gauge their interest and begin trade talks, only to be told that Butler is not available. If this is some kind of renegade negotiating strategy aimed at causing confusion and muddying the waters, it’s working. Members of other front offices don’t know whom to contact or what to believe. But nearly all of them expect Taylor to eventually shepherd a deal to the finish line.
Shams Charania: All-Star Jimmy Butler has been granted permission to not participate in Minnesota Timberwolves‘ media day on Monday, league sources tell me and @ Jon Krawczynski.
Jon Krawczynski: The Timberwolves have also been made aware that Jimmy Butler will not be available for on-court activities at the outset of training camp, sources tell @TheAthleticMIN
One league source pushed back at the notion that Thibodeau would flat-out refuse to trade Butler, telling the Star Tribune that Thibodeau would be willing to make a deal if he thinks the deal is fair.
As the Minnesota Timberwolves front office tells inquiring rivals that the franchise has no plans to trade All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor had a different message for owners and executives at the NBA's Board of Governors meetings: Butler is available, and prospective suitors should contact Taylor himself should they struggle to make progress with GM Scott Layden, sources told ESPN.
"The owner's trading him," one Board of Governors attendee told ESPN on Friday. "That was made clear. It's just a matter of when." "He basically said, 'If you don't get anywhere with [Layden], and you've got something good, bring it to me," another high-ranking league official told ESPN.
Many of those attending the Board of Governors meetings are convinced that Taylor and top team business officials don't want a prolonged saga with Butler, preferring to move him to a new team sooner than later.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Story filed to ESPN: As Minnesota’s front office tells inquiring rivals that team has no plans to trade Jimmy Butler, owner Glen Taylor had a different message at NBA’s Board of Governors meetings: Butler is available and owners/GM’s should contact Taylor himself if necessary.
With less than one week to go before media day on Sept. 24, Thibodeau was summoned to California for a meeting with Butler. He was planning on asking to be traded, but in the days leading up to the meeting several wondered if he would stick to his stance or soften it when Thibodeau charted his vision for the upcoming season. As Thibodeau laid out his plans, Butler told his coach that he wanted to be elsewhere. Thibodeau resisted, saying he couldn’t trade him because he wanted to make another playoff run this year. But Butler held firm.
Thibodeau has rebuffed trade calls to this point, even of the informal “what would it take?” variety that several teams have started to initiate, sources said. His hold on both positions in the organization hasn’t been strong for quite some time and it’s well known throughout the franchise that his relationship with Taylor got off to a bit of a rocky start. By all accounts, Thibodeau has been much more accessible and engaging with Taylor, and many in the organization, this summer. He has been working to establish relationships that he simply ignored in his first two seasons on the job, knowing full well that Year 3 could be considered make or break for the Thibodeau-Layden pairing.
This is Jimmy Butler. Thibs’ hand-picked pride and joy. The one who pledged to have his back through thick and thin and drag this woebegone franchise out of the dank cellar and into the spotlight. Now he wants out. And there remains a real possibility that he will not report to training camp next week if a trade has not been consummated, sources said.
Steve Aschburner: Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, as NBA Board of Governors meeting in NYC adjourned, determinedly ducked questions re: Jimmy Butler, trade request, drama, etc.. "It's disappointing," was all he said. Will not be at team's Media Day Monday or first w/outs.
The Wolves would like to dump Gorgui Dieng in any Butler deal, league sources say. Dieng is a backup set to earn $48 million over the next three seasons.
The Bucks placed a courtesy "keep us in the loop" call with Minnesota, sources say, and a package built around Khris Middleton (also set to be a free agent) and one future asset -- a pick, Thon Maker, something -- makes some sense.
The initial trade market for Jimmy Butler is confused and cool, league sources say, as teams contemplate their appetite for risk and wonder whether the Timberwolves can coalesce around trade talks -- or whether Tom Thibodeau's reported desire to keep Butler at all costs wins the day.
Butler is 29, with Tom Thibodeau miles and recent knee issues. A lot of teams would be queasy agreeing to pay him $40-plus million as he approaches age 35. That has dampened the early market, though teams are surely posturing to at least some degree -- just as the Wolves might be in rebuffing initial calls, per Wojnarowski on Friday.
Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has become fully engaged in the decision-making process on a potential Butler trade and is far more open to the idea of orchestrating a deal than president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, league sources said.
Opposing teams believe the fastest avenue to a Butler deal is engaging Taylor, league sources said. Taylor is attending the NBA's Board of Governors meetings today in New York, which include owners and top basketball executives.
To add to the Butler drama there have been multiple reports in the Minneapolis area to come out this week that money was the main sticking point for Butler to demand his departure, but a source in his camp told the Sun-Times on Friday that it was “manufactured’’ by “ownership mouthpieces’’ to make Butler look bad.
According to the source, this is about a philosophy in making an impact in the Western Conference, and in Butler’s mind you can’t run down a dynasty like Golden State when two of the so-called dogs in the pack are in fact kittens. Memo to Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins – meow. Meanwhile, who could have ever guessed that Bulls general manager Gar Forman suddenly looks like a big-boy basketball executive?
In the aftermath of Butler's trade request this week, Minnesota executives are telling teams that Butler's an elite player and that the franchise intends to keep him, league sources said. Often that's an opening message that's followed with a query on what a prospective trade partner might offer in a hypothetical deal, but that hasn't been the case in the Timberwolves dialogue with teams late this week, sources said.
Nevertheless, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor plans to be heavily involved in the decision-making process with President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Story filed to ESPN: Rival executives lobbing calls to Minnesota’s front office on possibility of trading for Jimmy Butler are getting inquires shut down. Minnesota is telling teams that Butler’s an elite player and franchise intends to keep him.
Towns reportedly won’t sign his rookie-scale extension until Minnesota handles the Butler situation, and the standoff apparently isn’t at all over haggling about contract terms, particularly what would happen if Towns qualifies next season for the super-max. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN: They’re offering him as much money as they can. I’m led to believe that a big reason why he hasn’t signed it is that he – through his agent, Leon Rose – went to the Wolves and said, “Hey, I can’t coexist with Jimmy. Do something about it.” So, Figure out the Jimmy situation. On top of that – whether it’s right or wrong, this is the way he feels – that it’s been Jimmy and Thibs ganging up on him.
But multiple league sources told SNY.tv that Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota's President and head coach, will want more than the Knicks can realistically offer. "Not enough for Minny," one NBA executive said. "Tibs wants to win now."
"I think Jimmy does not see a future in Minny and is not real excited to finish his career playing alongside KAT and Wiggins," the NBA executive said. "It's all about Jimmy," the executive added. "He is looking to get paid and to be the man."
Darren Wolfson: One Eastern Conference FO exec. today via text: "We watch with great interest but ultimately it comes down to not effing up the future - at what cost is it worth it?" #Twolves
The Knicks are shopping Courtney Lee, who is amenable to being traded to a contender. The Knicks want to move Lee for extra 2019 cap space, and he would certainly be offered up in a Butler package if the Knicks could get him on the cheap. But management seemed ambivalent about Butler’s wish-list news.
New coach David Fizdale seemed on board with not making any big splash before free agency. “We want to build it from the ground up culturally, through the draft, like Steve is talking about. We don’t want to jump at the shiny things,” Fizdale said. “We want to make solid decisions and be patient with this process. I’m a big part of that process. If I get rattled or start trying to nudge these guys, I’m too big a chunk to be disrupting this process. I’m locked into developing these kids and pouring in everything that I have into that right now.”
According to multiple league sources, coach Tom Thibodeau has no intention of letting Butler go for young, rebuilding-type pieces. Thibodeau, hotly pursued as a coaching free agent after leaving Chicago in 2015, went to Minnesota because he thought the team would be ready to contend quickly.
Butler, acquired last summer in a trade with the Bulls, had become part of that thought process. Thibodeau has zero interest in taking a step back with Minnesota, even, according to sources, if it means he ultimately parts ways with the team. "No one expects Tom to coach a 25-win or even 35-win team," one front-office executive told Sporting News. "Even if he has to agree to dissolve the contract, they’d do that before they go and trade Butler for draft picks."
Ian Begley: Knicks president Steve Mills, when asked indirectly about trading for Jimmy Butler, reiterates that the club won’t skip steps in developing the roster. So the Knicks remain unlikely to trade major assets for a player they feel they can sign in free agency.
Los Angeles has always been Butler’s top choice if he was to leave or be traded by Minnesota, according to league sources. But the Clippers should ask the same question as the New York teams: What’s the rush? They could also just wait for next summer without compromising their future. It would seem like a philosophical about-face, after trading another oft-injured star in Blake Griffin, to trade young pieces for Butler. Only a bargain makes sense.
League sources have consistently told me that Butler desires to play for a big-market franchise, so the three mentioned teams aren’t a shocker.
Rival executives believe a Butler trade could be inevitable this season, with Minnesota clearly tilting toward favoring its future around young star Karl-Anthony Towns. For Butler, the trade request largely derived from differences with the Timberwolves: Butler had hoped for a full five-year maximum contract this summer, more than the four-year, $110 million max they could offer. The Golden State Warriors surely offered their two All-Stars — Klay Thompson and Draymond Green — similar deals due to salary cap constraints to do more, but similar to Butler it behooves them to wait until next summer. It was insensible for Minnesota to clear the amount of contracts necessary, potentially multiple rotation players, just to extend Butler.
Caron Butler says LeBron James and Jimmy Butler would be a match made in heaven ... telling TMZ Sports the Lakers should try to make a trade for the All-Star. FYI -- Jimmy reportedly asked Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau for a trade on Wednesday ... after just one season in Minnesota.
After registering a trade request with the Minnesota Timberwolves, All-Star Jimmy Butler is most interested in pursuing a future with the Los Angeles Clippers, league sources told ESPN. Butler's ability to partner on the Clippers with a second star player in a deep summer free agency market holds a strong appeal to Butler, league sources said.
Butler told Minnesota president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau that he would like to be traded before reporting for Timberwolves media day on Monday and prefers the possibility of the Clippers -- as well as the New York Knicks, league sources said. Butler told the Timberwolves that he planned to leave the franchise in free agency next summer, sources said.
The Brooklyn Nets' ability to sign two max free agents in the summer will keep them in consideration for Butler, but he has prioritized the Clippers and Knicks over them, league sources said.
The Miami Heat have been interested in Butler too, league sources said, although the Heat don't have the salary-cap space in July to pursue him.
The Knicks made their declaration, drew their line in the sand regarding Jimmy Butler. “We’re not going to trade our draft picks,” team president Steve Mills told season ticket holders at the equivalent of a Knicks pep rally earlier this week. “We’re going to build this team the right way. What we’re not going to do is trade away assets to get a [free agent] that we can go get on our own later.” Usually, executives leave wiggle room. Plausible deniability. But that statement from Mills was absolute, broadcast on Facebook for the world to see. It also arrived just one day before Butler met with the Timberwolves to request a trade, telling their brass he prefers three destinations – the Knicks, Nets and Clippers.
Would the Sixers entertain the idea of acquiring Butler if he came at a massive discount on the trade market? Almost certainly. They're not in the business of turning down the opportunity to acquire a star player for next to nothing, and they're not unique in that sense. In a competitive marketplace, with Butler declaring a preferred destination list that doesn't include Philadelphia? That's a different story. There's a reason the Sixers have continued to lock down one-year deals and not rock the boat after striking out on max free agents this summer — they like what they have in place, and they don't necessarily want to disrupt that with unnecessary or unworthy risk.
PhillyVoice conducted numerous discussions with people around the team after the Butler trade demand broke Wednesday, and my sense is the Sixers are extremely wary of the idea of Butler, specifically related to the clashes he's had with young teammates in both Chicago and Minnesota. The role players they have around their stars double as their most valuable movable trade chips, and the Sixers value their character as much as their output. ... Never say never, but Butler to Philadelphia seems like an unlikely proposition at this stage. With young stars in the fold and strong culture years in the making, the Sixers seem to view chasing Butler's upside as a risk they'd rather let someone else take.
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.
With that off the table, the Wolves offered a four-year, $110 million extension, which was the highest they could go under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. Butler could get a new five-year deal worth $188 million from the Wolves next summer, so he turned that offer down.
Bobby Marks: Each front office interested in a long term relationship with Jimmy Butler will rely heavily on their training/performance team. Still only 29 but the guard has been in the top 10 in minutes played over the past 5 seasons with an average of 37.6. Cap hit in Y4/5 is $40.5 + $43.2.
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.
Anthony Puccio: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson comments on Jimmy Butler’s picture “come on home” pic.twitter.com/DetlxacnyV
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.
Albert Nahmad: Let’s be clear on terminology here. Jimmy Butler’s only EXTENSION options start in 2019-20 and add: (i) 2 years, $46M if within 6 months of trade or (ii) 4 years, $101M after. SIGNING NEW CONTRACT next summer: (i) 5 years, $190M with prior team, or (ii) 4 years, $141M elsewhere.
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.
1) Jimmy Butler’s unhappiness in Minnesota will reportedly be addressed today in a meeting between him, Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden. I’m told, though, that while Butler has serious questions about the direction of the franchise, he’s still willing to hear Minnesota out, and isn’t dead set on demanding a trade elsewhere. Stay tuned.
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.
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.
All this is leading up to some sort of break-up, with Jimmy Butler likely being the first one to go. Nick Friedell first came out with the story: “Being around that [Timberwolves] team a lot last year, I think Jimmy is probably going to be gone a year from right now”
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."
Outside of Leonard, Cousins and Butler may be the most likely to switch teams. Per a source close to Butler, he's open to the idea of moving on from the Timberwolves to play alongside James in Los Angeles.
How interested is Texas native Butler in coming home? I'd like to find out about that, too. From what I am gathering, Butler is also really good friends with Mavs' new guy Jordan. Therefore, if this trade somehow could be engineered, you'd have to like the Mavs' chances of re-signing Butler in 2019, assuming he does opt out. And, for the same reason, you'f have to like DeAndre's chances of re-upping as well.
Alysha Tsuji: Jimmy Butler kinda sorta responds to the reports that he wants out of Minnesota by recording this after a bunch of IG Stories of him working out ... but it cuts out at the end
Appearing on “The Bill Simmons Podcast,’’ Butler confirmed a Sun-Times story that when he left a June meeting with general manager Gar Forman and VP of basketball operations John Paxson, he did so feeling like he was going to stay a Bull. “I thought I was going to be there so I’m not going to say word for word what they said, but when I left there I did think I was going to be there,’’ Butler said. “But like I said, it’s a business and it is what it is. “I said [to them in the meeting] we were OK. I said a lot of things about the future that if I could control it I would do this, but I can’t.
“I have nothing against anybody on that team, anybody in that organization, but they were so stuck on not building around me, but maybe building with me as they would say or going young. A rebuild. So it was one or the other. I just wanted to know. Was it clear when I left that meeting what we were going to do? No. Maybe I was told some things that I took as, ‘You might be here.’ ‘’
Further exacerbating James’ frustration is the Cavs were close to making a deal for then-Chicago Bulls All-Star Jimmy Butler the day Gilbert decided to mutually part ways with Griffin and Redden, two people familiar with negotiations told USA TODAY Sports. They requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the negotiations.
One person who won’t likely be calling Butler anytime soon is Bulls general manager Gar Forman. After the trade last week, Forman said on two occasions that Butler had been kept informed of what was going on leading up to it and that he never lied to Butler or his representatives.
However, a source close to the situation told the Sun-Times on Thursday that Forman’s version of events doesn’t match what happened in the days — and even the minutes — leading up to the draft-night deal. “[Forman] knows what he said,” the source said. “That’s just who he is. Travelle [Gaines] hit it on the head.”
Reached for comment Thursday, Forman said in a text message, “Absolutely false! Never talked with Jimmy again after John [Paxson] and I had our meeting with him several weeks prior to the draft.” Given the chance Thursday to comment, Butler took the high road. “I already said how much love I have for the city of Chicago,” he said. “I don’t have anything to say about anybody in that organization, in that city. They took a chance on a kid from Tomball, [Texas], who didn’t know where he belonged. But now this new chapter, this new era, I’m looking forward to it.”