Jimmy Butler walked into practice on Wednesday in time for the scrimmage to start. He had not been on the court with his Timberwolves teammates since Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Houston in April, but it didn’t take him long to take over, just like old times. “Y’all better hurry up,” Butler woofed, according to three people in the gym at the time. “I’m only here for an hour.”
He jumped into the fray, grabbing several members of the third team such as Luol Deng, James Nunnally and two-way player Jared Terrell to go against Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and some of the higher-profile Wolves players. He challenged them, like he has so often since he first came to town. He talked trash to the young Wolves and the old Wolves, spewed venom toward head coach Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, as ESPN first reported.
“I run this shit,” Butler howled, according to several people in the practice facility. Some players laughed. Jimmy being Jimmy. Others in the building were concerned, wondering how Thibodeau and Layden could stand for that kind of conduct, sources said.
In a meeting on Monday, Butler told Thibodeau this is how it would go, sources said. He wasn’t going to sit by and be quiet and have his desires ignored. Butler had also made clear that he wanted to sit down to discuss several issues with Towns, including the timing of his contract signing, as a means to challenge the young center about being up front and honest, league sources said. It is unclear if that meeting has taken place.
I agree with Britt that the wise move would be to pay him to stay away from the team. But before Wednesday, Thibs clearly didn’t believe that his presence in the locker room and on the court would be a problem.
There was insight sought from a Chicago media person who had watched Butler from the start of his career. The suggestion was that Jimmy came into the league driven by his underdog status, and that changed a few years later when he started hanging out with Wahlberg and seeing himself as a star.
Darren Wolfson: Told Butler is breaking his silence right now in a sit-down with ESPN. Interview to air tonight. #Twolves
Adrian Wojnarowski: After talks fell apart over weekend, Miami's still pursuing discussions with Minnesota on a Jimmy Butler trade, sources tell ESPN. Butler has been in Timberwolves locker room with teammates this morning before practice, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll join them on floor.
While teams trying to deal with the Timberwolves as the Jimmy Butler saga drags have expressed frustration with the asking price — Miami’s offer was centered around solid, young two-way guard Josh Richardson and a draft pick, but the Wolves sought to add deadweight salary into the mix — there’s also a good deal of trepidation about acquiring Butler, league executives told Sporting News. "As good as Jimmy is, I think you have to be concerned about the impact he is going to have in the locker room, on your younger guys, on your coaching staff, all of that," one general manager said. "He has gotten the benefit of the doubt, but if you look at his history, he’s had trouble getting along in Chicago and now in Minnesota.
The Clippers have been in contact with the Wolves, too, but LA won’t include forward Tobias Harris in a deal. Instead, the Clippers have juggled offers that include Danilo Gallinari as the centerpiece, or some combination including guards Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic and others. "The Wolves want to get fair value on Jimmy, but that is not going to happen," one executive told Sporting News. "It’s not just that. If you’re the Nets or Clippers, you know you could sign the guy next summer without giving up anything. It’s also, is this the right fit with what we are doing? The Nets have been trying to build up a certain culture, but you add Butler and that dynamic changes.
Stefano Fusaro: Jimmy Butler update: According to a league source, The Wolves contacted the Rockets again Tuesday morning, after their failed deal with Miami this past weekend. Minnesota was still adamant on receiving Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker, but Houston will not put Tucker on the table.
Jimmy Butler has returned to Minnesota and reiterated his desire to be traded in a meeting with president and coach Tom Thibodeau on Monday, league sources told The Athletic. Barring a change in the dwindling trade market between now and the season opener in San Antonio on Oct. 17, the Timberwolves are making preparations to start the season with Butler on the roster, league sources said.
Butler has not practiced with the team since training camp opened on Sept. 25, just over a week after he first met with Thibodeau to personally deliver his trade request. He was at the facility on Monday, sources said. The Wolves have had conversations with a number of teams — most notably with the Miami Heat, who have discussed frameworks around the promising Josh Richardson — but have yet to close a deal.
Several teams around the league have privately questioned whether the Wolves are truly interested in finding a trade for a player that was the central figure in Thibodeau’s plans to rebuild the team. Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden have driven a hard bargain for their four-time All-Star, not wanting to give him up for pennies on the dollar and take a massive step back heading into a season that could be make-or-break for their regime.
Players have tired of the constant questions about Butler’s status. The cloud has hung over the franchise for three weeks now, and it’s clear that they have enough to worry about with their performances in the preseason. “It’s tough but you have to just circle the wagons like Thibs said,” Gibson said. “I’m just focusing right now on whoever is here because you have to understand we have a strong group of guys that come in here, put a lot of time and work in.
Teague has said Butler is a “good friend” but doesn’t want to get involved in what he has going on off the court. “I really don’t pay attention to much,” Teague said. “Just kind of stick to myself and do what I’m supposed to do. Stay out of everybody’s way and I just enjoy the process, I honestly do.”
That the talks collapsed twice in such a short span should be surprising to no one who has followed the Wolves throughout Taylor's quarter-century of ownership. The same Taylor who held onto Kevin Garnett and then-General Manager Kevin McHale for too long. Who allowed himself to be talked into hiring the thoroughly ill-prepared David Kahn as McHale's replacement. Who could have escaped his Butler nightmare by accepting a package from Miami that would have been headlined by the promising Heat swingman Josh Richardson and a protected first-round pick.
Numerous teams have complained in recent days that Thibodeau and Layden are acting like two men who really don’t want to make a deal. But that hasn’t stopped the Heat from engaging in numerous rounds of talks with the Wolves and presenting them with what appears to be a pretty palatable offer given Minnesota’s distinct lack of leverage. Miami, Brooklyn and the Los Angeles Clippers are the teams known to most interest Butler in the long-term. The fact that one of those three is willing to furnish a young player as highly rated as Richardson, along with a potential first-round pick, would enable the Wolves to recoup a good bit of what they gave up (Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the draft pick that became Lauri Markkanen) to acquire Butler.
As lifeless and distracted as the Wolves have looked during the exhibition season, can you imagine Butler, Towns and Wiggins trying to co-exist long enough for Taylor to find a trade he’s willing to sanction? Toronto, Houston, Boston, San Antonio, Philadelphia and, of course, LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers — there are so many teams, for so many intriguing reasons, we should be obsessing over as opening night draws near. There’s also the small matter of the Golden State Warriors preparing to work in the mercurial DeMarcus Cousins as they chase a fourth championship in five seasons.
Multiple reports have the Rockets eliminated from contention, despite offering a package rumored to be as big as Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker, and several draft picks. The reasoning for Houston being ruled out isn’t because of the deal, but because, reportedly, Minnesota doesn’t want the Rockets to become the kind of juggernaut the Western Conference already has in Golden State. “We already are at [that level],” Feritta says in a phone call. “We’re an improved team over last year based on who we’ve acquired this offseason. And last year, obviously, we’re a game away from the Finals. “We would love to see Jimmy come home to Houston. It’s not a financial decision, it’s an assets decision on our part. We’ve got a great basketball team. We think we’re as good as anybody in the league. We’re not going to give up unreasonable assets, to break up this team, to get Jimmy Butler. But we would love to have him.”
While Houston continues to explore its options in the Jimmy Butler saga and has significant interest in landing the disgruntled Minnesota star, strong skepticism remains that the Timberwolves are seriously dedicated to finding a deal. So long as that remains the case, with so many executives convinced that president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau still wants Butler to stay despite the uncomfortable nature of it all, then these Rockets will have to prepare as if there is no more help on the way. Translation: The prospect of Anthony playing like a legitimate star again would be welcomed. He has plenty of personal incentive, too, as he’ll be a free agent again next summer after signing a one-year, $2.4 million deal with Houston (Anthony was traded by the Thunder to Atlanta in a three-team deal with Philadelphia, then bought out by the Hawks; he’s still slated to earn the $27.9 million he was owed for next season between the buyout and his Rockets deal).
Jon Krawczynski: Jimmy Butler has returned to Minnesota, and in a meeting with Tom Thibodeau on Monday, reiterated his desire to be traded, league sources tell me and @ShamsCharania
Jon Krawczynski: Butler had been away from the team while the Wolves were on the West Coast, and was still not in town when they returned last week. As trade talks have slowed, there is still no change in his desire to move.
But the Clippers have yet to offer Tobias Harris in any package, sources said. It is believed that the Wolves are looking at Harris to headline any potential Clippers deal, just like they are looking at Richardson to be the main cog in a deal with Miami.
The Heat, Clippers, 76ers and Nets are among other teams to have expressed privately their misgivings about the Wolves’ intentions, league sources have said. But they also could have expected Minnesota to fold much more quickly on a deal given the circumstances.
It may seem obvious, but this is the first place to start. Butler has never wavered on his stance that he wants to be traded from the Timberwolves, league sources told The Athletic, even after several attempts by Thibodeau to convince him to rejoin the team and play this season out.
Butler was in Los Angeles hanging out last week when the Wolves were in town to face the Clippers. He dined with several teammates and has been texting players like Taj Gibson and Josh Okogie with messages of encouragement while he has been away. But he remains determined to force a move and is hopeful a deal is struck before the season begins so he can get back on the court and get going, sources said.
He has been working out on his own while the team has excused him from practices and preseason games, but the conditioning that comes from playing in games is on a different level.
Although the Butler drama has seemingly put the organization in a bind, Thibodeau warned against letting it become more of a distraction than it already is. "Focus on the people that are here and get ready to play. That's it," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. "We've got a long season, and if you look you can get distracted very easily, so focus is very important. This team has been through a lot in the last year. I think they're ready to handle whatever is thrown our way."
Jeff Zillgitt: To borrow a phrase my mom used to yell at me, the Heat have had it up to here with the Timberwolves, I'm told. Doesn't mean talks can't be resurrected, but exasperated is polite way to describe Heat in this situation.
Talks between the two teams could restart again, but it appears there would need to be a resetting process between Miami and Minnesota, league sources said. Minnesota has been engaged with no serious talks elsewhere on Butler, with teams believing that a Miami deal was inevitable and the Timberwolves steep asking price often remaining a non-starter in talks, league sources said. Butler is a four-time All-Star who has told Minnesota that he'll leave in free agency in July -- and wants a trade now.
Asked what the Wolves are seeking, a Heat source said: “The first born of all our kids.” Still, the source declined to rule out the possibility of a deal still happening if Minnesota lessens its demands.
The Wolves are believed to be asking for several of the assets the Heat considers most valuable: Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic, Kelly Olynyk, Justise Winslow and a No. 1 pick. Miami had shown willingness to include Richardson after initially balking, according to a source.
Shams Charania: Sources on @TheAthleticNBA @WatchStadium: Minnesota and Miami have seriously discussed several frameworks of a potential deal for Jimmy Butler, including ones with Heat's Josh Richardson. Medicals shared both ways. Timberwolves do not appear any closer a deal.
Owner Glen Taylor is pushing president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden to find a deal sooner than later for Butler, league sources said. Minnesota had really pushed Miami to include Richardson in any proposed deal. Richardson, 25, is considered a strong, young two-way player. He averaged 12.9 points in 81 starts last season. He's in the first season of a four-year, $42 million contract.
Minnesota had shared Butler's medical information with Miami late in the week, sources said, a typical last step before finalizing a trade. Minnesota owner Glen Taylor and Miami owner Micky Arison had become involved in the talks and there was hope that a trade call with the league office could finalize a deal soon -- until Minnesota moved to amend the framework of the trade and talks collapsed on Saturday, league sources said.
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Sources: Minnesota-Miami talks escalated close to a Jimmy Butler deal over weekend – only to see trade fall apart. Minnesota shared Butler’s medical info with Miami, owners were involved and sides prepared to finalize. Minnesota pushed for more, talks fractured.
While Houston continues to explore its options in the Jimmy Butler saga and has significant interest in landing the disgruntled Minnesota star, strong skepticism remains that the Timberwolves are seriously dedicated to finding a deal. So long as that remains the case, with so many executives convinced that president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau still wants Butler to stay despite the uncomfortable nature of it all, then these Rockets will have to prepare as if there is no more help on the way.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Clippers have had ongoing discussions about a trade centered around All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, league sources told Yahoo Sports. The Timberwolves’ asking price has been deemed too high thus far, with multiple players and picks being requested, sources said.
In any deal with the Clippers, Minnesota would prefer to acquire forward Tobias Harris, sources said. Various trade packages have been proposed on both sides, but the Clippers do not intend to trade Harris, sources said. The Timberwolves’ brass hasn’t fully engaged the Clippers’ pitches, sources said, because it is believed that president of basketball operations/head coach Tom Thibodeau is holding out hope that he can persuade Butler to rescind his trade request.
Jon Krawczynski: Jeff Teague was asked how Jimmy would fit back into the locker room if he came back: “it would be nice. That’s my friend. But that’s not up to me.”
Christopher Hine: Today’s Jimmy Butler update Question to Tom Thibodeau:”How do you feel about the ongoing discussions?” A: “They’re ongoing.” End of press scrum.
Adrian Wojnarowski: While Minnesota-Miami talks on Jimmy Butler continued today, there's no deal imminent tonight, league sources tell ESPN.
Timberwolves executives told other interested teams in the past 24 hours that they didn't have any offers that met the franchise's criteria to honor Butler's trade request and planned to hold on to him until a deal met their requirements, league sources said. Miami is one of the preferred destinations of Butler's, league sources said. He has told the Wolves that he'll leave the team in July free agency, and has expressed interest in several teams with max salary space, including the LA Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
During “The Scoop” segment with Darren Wolfson on Wednesday on 1500 ESPN, he mentioned that while the Wolves could fine Jimmy Butler for not practicing with the team they weren’t doing so as a “good faith move with the hope he will rejoin them, even if it’s for a short time.” Butler has made it clear he wants out of Minnesota after one season and has told the organization that if he isn’t traded he will leave as a free agent next summer. Butler did report to training camp but was excused from the early practice sessions as he recovered from offseason surgery on his right wrist.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Miami, Minnesota have been consistently engaged in Jimmy Butler talks for several days, with Heat pushing Timberwolves for an answer today on a revised offer, league sources tell ESPN. Minnesota’s conversations are relatively sparse elsewhere; remain focused on Miami.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Barring a trade, Tom Thibodeau is still determined to get Butler back with the team for start of season. Butler hasn't made a final decision on when he'll join team and practice, but he doesn't plan to miss regular season games if his wrist is healthy.
Darren Wolfson: It's also why the #Twolves aren't fining Butler, which they could. Good faith move with the hope that he will rejoin them, even if it's for a short time. Sort of comparable to 'Melo in Denver in 2010. Asked for a trade in late August, was moved months later at the deadline.
Marc Stein: As @NYTSports reported last week, Wolves ownership has been notified that Miami is Jimmy Butler's preferred destination, which is significant given that Butler becomes a free agent July 1
Darren Wolfson: Had a mutual friend of ours in the league say today that he heard the Wolves asked Miami for both Richardson and Bam. But couldn't confirm from another contact. But falls in line with what @Marc Stein has tonight.
Darren Wolfson: "My understanding is, from talking to numerous league officials - league sources, front-office folks, a coach, actually, a couple of coaching sources - that the Timberwolves have all the parameters of the deals that they can make. So it's on the Wolves at some point here to say yes. Now, do they wait a little bit longer just to see if some team adds some player in, like Miami? Miami is not willing to move Josh Richardson. But in the end, do they offer Josh Richardson? I talked about that on a recent podcast, that some league people thought yeah, at the end, Pat Riley would make him available when you have the chance to acquire a star like Jimmy Butler. But so far, as of Oct. 2nd, no sense whatsoever that Miami is making Josh Richardson available. Same goes for Bam Adebayo."
Darren Wolfson: "Now, league folks still say to keep an eye on Miami. That Miami wants him the most, that he wants to be in Miami—not that the Wolves care about that but, hey, if he wants to be in Miami and Miami wants him, that eventually you can find some sort of happy medium, find a way to complete a trade."
Darren Wolfson: "Is Goran Dragic available [in exchange for Jimmy Butler]? Yeah, the Wolves could acquire Goran Dragic. Is Hassan Whiteside available? Yeah, the Wolves could acquire Hassan Whiteside. From Houston, you can get Eric Gordon. You can get PJ Tucker. The Rockets want Jimmy Butler. The Bucks are willing to offer Malcolm Brogdon, Eric Bledsoe—the Bucks still have interest in Jimmy Butler, but they're not willing to move Khris Middleton. ... The Clippers are also still very, very interested in Jimmy Butler."
Anthony Chiang: FWIW: Among the scouts expected to be at tonight's Heat-Hornets preseason game is Minnesota Timberwolves scout Pete Mickeal. Neither team plays Minnesota until December.
Thibodeau said the status of Jimmy Butler, who requested a trade Sept. 18, remains a “fluid situation.” Thibodeau said Sept. 24 that Butler needed a week to continue rehabilitating a surgically repaired right hand but that he expected Butler to rejoin the team when that week was up. However, Butler was not with the team in Los Angeles for practice Monday.
Ethan J. Skolnick: "I heard that the last offer [the Miami Heat made for Jimmy Butler] was on Thursday morning. Coincidentally... it was a little coincidental to me that two reports came out of Houston right after the Heat made their final offer. That, to me, strikes me as Minnesota was [leaking] stuff out—that somebody else was interested. Because a couple of those reports on Friday night were like, 'A deal is gonna get done by midnight.' We're sitting here talking on Monday, there's been no deal."
Ethan J. Skolnick: "So I don't think there's a market for Jimmy Butler right now because the teams that I thought could get really involved here—Philadelphia, I've heard they haven't put Dario Saric on the table, they haven't put Markelle Fultz on the table. You're not making a deal without putting those two guys on the table. ... The Clippers, I've heard, have not put Tobias Harris on the table, and I don't know what else they're front-lining a deal with. I've heard all along [the Clippers/Butler stuff] is overstated."
According to league sources, Butler and his representatives are increasingly frustrated with Minnesota’s handling of trade talks and seriously question whether the Timberwolves – from longtime owner Glen Taylor on down — are truly trying to find a deal.
All across the NBA, with more than half the league having shown varying levels of interest in landing the four-time All-Star, the feedback coming Butler’s way remains the same: Minnesota’s asking price is far too high, inter-team communication is sometimes an exercise in futility, and the counter-offers that the Timberwolves have provided are, as Butler’s side sees it, downright delusional.
After the meeting, the source said, their recollections about what had been said couldn’t have been more different. 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.
Mark Medina: The T-Wolves game notes listing Jimmy Butler out tonight because of offseason surgery on his right wrist. I wonder if there's another reason 🤔
Connor Letourneau: Steve Kerr on preparing for a Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves team: "Honestly, we don't. It's the first game of the preseason. We don't prepare for them."
Adrian Wojnarowski: “I think the Knicks so far have stayed on the sideline [in Jimmy Butler trade talks] on this one. The Nets and Clippers have talked with Minnesota, and Minnesota’s asking price has been so high—and I think the question for both the Clippers and Nets is this: One, does getting Butler help you get a second star, a bigger star? Does it help you—and I think this is a question more for the Clippers—does Butler lead to Kawhi Leonard? Does he potentially lead to Kevin Durant? I think Kawhi is more realistic for the Clippers than Durant but we’ll see how things play in Golden State this year and where they are.”
Adrian Wojnarowski: “I know Minnesota was telling teams last week, ‘We’ve got an offer we really, really like. We’ve got an offer we’d do.’ Nobody believed them. Like, nobody believed them. And part of the problem for that Minnesota front office is, one GM/executive said to me, ‘In normal circumstances, they’re the most difficult in the league to deal with. In normal circumstances, they’re usually very unrealistic about what they can get back from you in a deal. Under these circumstances? They’re exponentially more difficult to deal with.’ And I wonder how that cat-and-mouse game plays out when you’re trying to create a marketplace for a player.”
"At the end of the day, you've got to look at it from a player's standpoint and a business standpoint," Gibson told ESPN after Friday's practice. "He's trying to do what he got to do but everybody's calling him. It's more of a [situation where] I've got to go see him kind of thing. But I worked out with him all summer so when I said what I meant, it was like a right hook, I didn't see it coming.”
"Now in the NBA, everybody has a little bit of freedom to do a little more of what they want," Rose told ESPN. "And he's expressing that he don't want to be here and he want to go somewhere else. I mean Kawhi [Leonard] did it last year, didn't he? Like he just didn't play. Jimmy just came out and said he didn't want to play here. I had so much [stuff] going on I couldn't even focus on what was really going on with the team.”
Tom Thibodeau didn’t much feel like talking about Butler, preferring to talk about the “players who are here.” Thibodeau indicated, however, that Butler’s trade request hasn’t much affected their relationship. “That’s the NBA. That’s part of everyone’s job,” Thibodeau said. “Don’t allow yourself to be distracted. You have to be focused on what your job is. My job is to do what’s best for the Timberwolves and that’s what we’re going to do.”
“That’s part of being a pro,” Thibodeau said. “So in this league there could be distractions every day if you allow it, so it’s important to understand how to approach your job and I think we have a good mix of veterans who have been through it and they understand how important training camp is and getting ready for the season.”
The Wolves asked about Josh Richardson, but the Heat - as of Thursday - was not interested in including him, according to a league source.
Ethan J. Skolnick: Jimmy Butler update: Multiple sources have told @5ReasonsSports & @FusaroESPN today that the Heat made what they deemed a "final offer" to the Wolves on Thursday morning & told the Wolves to sort out their situation..... It is not clear if that has changed since....
Ethan J. Skolnick: Two other league sources have told @5ReasonsSports that the Heat and Rockets were the teams most engaged in trade conversations with the Wolves to that point. There is also a belief the Clippers could change the equation if they offer more. Mostly, teams are waiting on Thibodeau.
Drafted 21st overall and acquired in a trade by Flip Saunders on Draft Night 2013, Gorgui Dieng is the longest-tenured player on the 2018-19 Minnesota Timberwolves roster. He is also the most likely player on the roster not named Jimmy Butler to be traded in the coming days, according to league sources.
The Minnesota Timberwolves reportedly sought Ben Simmons in a potential Jimmy Butler trade with the Philadelphia 76ers. Appearing on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Thursday, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor explained just how high the Timberwolves' asking price is for their disgruntled shooting guard: "One of the things that I've heard from a handful of sources is that—with the Sixers for example—the initial offer that they made, the counter-offer was like, 'We need Ben Simmons in a deal.'"
Sam Amick: All the noise about Jimmy Butler yesterday was about Miami, but it’s clear Minnesota’s price tag remains extremely high. To highlight one rumored team, I’m told Philly is currently completely out of the JB situation and has never had any traction after preliminary discussions.
Sam Amick: The Kings remain interested in serving as a third team, with focus on landing a 2019 first rounder. But as of late last night, no scenarios were even remotely firm. Prospect of bad contracts coming their way is in play, but they’ll be cautious about impacting future flexibility.
The Minnesota Timberwolves' asking price to trade All-Star forward Jimmy Butler remains quality veterans, top prospects, future assets and salary-cap relief, which is presently too steep of a package for interested teams, league sources told ESPN. Throughout trade talks, Minnesota Timberwolves president and coach Tom Thibodeau has continued to try to recruit Butler to ease off his trade demand and return to practice with the team, league sources said. Butler has yet to attend a Timberwolves workout and wants to sit out until the franchise executes a trade for him.
Mike Fisher: I mean, I just talked to #Mavs officials this am. They say they have NOT jumped into Jimmy Butler trade talks w Minn. So maybe ‘gauged price’ means they’ve simply had in-house discussion. pic.twitter.com/YTZ9UzJXGQ
Adrian Wojnarowski: ESPN Reporting w/ Zach Lowe: Minnesota’s asking price for Jimmy Butler remains too steep for teams. Minny seeks quality vets/top prospects/future assets/cap relief. Too high a price for interested teams, including Miami. Sources are skeptical of Thibodeau’s desire to make deal.
Caris LeVert is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. “First two days of training camp, he’s been fantastic, quite honestly. I’m going to call it like it is,” coach Kenny Atkinson said of LeVert. “I don’t really get into that type of stuff too much,” LeVert said. “Obviously as a player, it’s good to feel wanted, and it’s good for other people to acknowledge what you’ve been doing on the court. But, like I said, I don’t get into that too much. I love it here in Brooklyn, and I want to play here a long time.”
Ira Winderman: To follow up amid reports of Heat cancelling evening practice amid Butler buzz: Heat wanted to and were preparing to practice, but the court time preferred at FAU was not available, so held a team meeting. Same was the case on Tuesday night. He instead went longer Wed. morning.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Phoenix did check w/ Minnesota on cost of getting involved on a Jimmy Butler trade, but asking price was far too steep for Suns. So far, there's been no communication on Teague or Dragic in a 3-way, but that could always change if Miami-Minnesota go deeper into talks.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Sources: Miami has been the most engaged team with Minnesota on a Jimmy Butler trade. So far, no traction with Clippers and Nets. Houston's tried to be creative in its pursuit. It'll be a challenge -- although not impossible -- to get any Butler deal done without a third team.
Barry Jackson: Brian Windhorst reporting Spoelstra is pushing for Jimmy Butler deal. As we've noted over the past week, Spoelstra loves Butler, so this wouldn't be surprising.
Five Reasons Sports Network: Chasing more right now, but we can report this with multiple league sources as a network: The Heat have been aggressively trying to move Dion Waiters, even if it's not directly for Jimmy Butler. Similar to what @LeBatardShow said this morning. Different sources, I suspect.
Adrian Wojnarowski: Phoenix's pursuit of a starting point guard could factor into the Jimmy Butler trade discussions as a potential third-team partner, league sources tell ESPN. If Minnesota trades for Goran Dragic in a Miami/Butler scenario, that could make Wolves PG Jeff Teague available for Suns.
Meanwhile, the Heat continues to aggressively pursue a trade for the four-time All-Star, who has asked for a trade and informed the Timberwolves that he would not re-sign with them as a free agent next summer. An executive with another Eastern Conference team said he believes Miami is the leading contender for Butler but that wasn’t based on anything the Wolves have told him.
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.”