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More on Minnesota Timberwolves Turmoil

As​ word of​ Jimmy​ Butler’s​ expletive-laden​ return to Timberwolves practice this week​ started to​ spread,​ those steeped​ in​ this​​ franchise’s basketball lore found it eerily similar to the days when Kevin Garnett prowled Target Center with a foul-mouthed fury and a never-ending lather. Watching it unfold from afar, the original alpha wolf recognized some similarities in the way Butler went at coach Tom Thibodeau, GM Scott Layden and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins during a spirited scrimmage on Wednesday. He also sees some noticeable differences. “You don’t think that I went crazy sometimes? Man, I was a damn Tasmanian devil,” Garnett told The Athletic in a phone interview. “I would say shit at (Kevin) McHale. I would say shit at Flip (Saunders). But it was all to motivate all of us. We had a big game against Chicago and I’m just raising the level to what I’m expecting the next day to be like.”
That’s why he is so concerned at the current state of affairs. He may have won a championship in Boston, but he still sees himself as Minnesotan, as connected to this woebegone franchise that he put on the map. “I’m a T-Wolf for life, man,” Garnett said. “I’m ‘Sota for life. I’ve always wanted better for not only the city and the franchise, but Wigs, KAT, those are my guys. I root for those guys. Gorgui Dieng. Those are my guys. I’m just hoping they can get through this rough patch and everybody can get on the same patch and figure it out. It’s a shit storm up there.” Butler has demanded a trade, missed the first two weeks of training camp and the preseason, then returned for an hour-long portion of practice on Wednesday before storming out and airing his grievances in a SportsCenter interview with Rachel Nichols. “What’s really the shit storm is that can’t nobody keep shit in practice,” Garnett said. “What goes on in practice should always stay in practice. And what goes on between two conglomerates as businesses should always stay (private). Everything is so god damn public now.”
Alex Kennedy: Another Wolves player, Darius Johnson-Odom, tweeted (then deleted) that there was no players-only meeting. So far, we have Jeff Teague, Darius Johnson-Odom and player-development coach John Lucas III saying there WASN'T a meeting versus Jimmy Butler saying there WAS a meeting.

http://twitter.com/alexkennedynba/status/1050492542758936576
Jimmy Butler held a players-only meeting with Minnesota Timberwolves players on Thursday, a day after he reported to the team for a first, contentious practice. Butler, who proclaimed Wednesday his sole concern was with winning, said he reiterated to players in the meeting that his issues were with management and not his teammates. Butler confirmed the meeting in a text to ESPN's Rachel Nichols. The news was first reported by The Athletic.

http://twitter.com/DaneMooreNBA/status/1050435900574822402
Dane Moore: Not only would the roster be frail this yr but it would have taken NUMEROUS future assets to have cleared $19M. In this salary cap environment, multiple league execs told me it would have taken "two 1sts" to move Gorgui Dieng's contract (only $16M of $19M needed). Gorgui Dieng: Keep my name out of your mouth. You always talk about me. If you want this money suit up then.
Alex Kennedy: Another Wolves player, Darius Johnson-Odom, tweeted (then deleted) that there was no players-only meeting. So far, we have Jeff Teague, Darius Johnson-Odom and player-development coach John Lucas III saying there WASN'T a meeting versus Jimmy Butler saying there WAS a meeting.

http://twitter.com/AlexKennedyNBA/status/1050492542758936576
Shams Charania: Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting today, airing his feelings toward situation and management, per league sources. Butler expressed to players he would compete with them, as signs pointing to him staying with the franchise into the regular season.
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 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.

http://twitter.com/BernieoLee/statuses/1050168543306756097
There are people close to this situation who strongly believe that Thibs’ time in Minnesota is already unofficially over. That being said, two key factors will be taken into consideration: Money, and timing. While the $24 million he’s still owed obviously pales in comparison to what the T-Wolves’ young cornerstones are hauling in, it’s still … $24 million. Thibodeau’s arrival in April of 2016 was a big moment for this franchise that had been in the dark for quite some time, and let’s not forget that — dysfunction be darned — it was his team that broke the 14-year playoff drought.
The general feeling on that front is that he’d probably be more inclined to pursue a different, less toxic, coaching chair. As for the question of whether or not he should be having a voice on a trade here, the reality for Taylor is that he’s not a basketball man, per se, while Thibodeau and Layden are the hoops experts here.
Disgruntled Minnesota Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler’s emotional, profanity-laced tirade Wednesday was directed primarily at Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, as well as members of the franchise’s front office, during an unexpected practice session appearance, sources told Yahoo Sports. “I ain’t never seen some [expletive] like that. Jimbo showed out,” one of Minnesota’s players told Yahoo Sports.
Butler showed up to practice late and just subbed himself into the scrimmage on the third team to go against the starting group, league sources said. Throughout the practice, Butler verbally bashed Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden, league sources said. Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates such as “They ain’t [expletive]!” and “They soft!”, league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, league sources said.
Neither Towns nor Wiggins confronted Butler at any point, league sources said. Some players were motivated by Butler’s theatrics, but others were distraught and speechless, and most notably Towns, league sources said. When practice concluded, Butler stormed out of the facility without stretching with the rest of his teammates, league sources said. However, before he departed, Wiggins gave him a hand dap, league sources said.
Sports Center: "All my emotion came out at one time." Jimmy Butler sat down with @Rachel__Nichols to talk about today's practice and what led to it. See more on SportsCenter at 6 ET and NBA Countdown at 7 ET

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1050138641278881792
All-Star Jimmy Butler participated in the Minnesota Timberwolves' practice on Wednesday, a session that included him verbally challenging teammates, coaches and front office executives, league sources told ESPN. Butler was vociferous and emotional at times, targeting president/coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, league sources said. He had not practiced with the team so far this season after requesting a trade three weeks ago.
Adrian Wojnarowski: At one point in a scrimmage, sources said, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, "You (bleeping) need me. You can't win without me." Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way. Jimmy's back.
Darren Wolfson: Here's Tolliver and Teague on Butler, who did practice today - neither would fully confirm. Another player via text when I asked how Butler looked: "I'm legally blind!" Also, RIP me. I have now officially died on the hill of Butler never wearing a #Twolves uniform again. pic.twitter.com/nk20gWmm7B
The Bucks took control of this game in no small part due to errors and miscommunication from the Timberwolves on offense — usually one of their saving graces. Andrew Wiggins and Tyus Jones both had four turnovers and Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague had three each as a part of 21 total turnovers. “You can tell the teams who got together over the summer,” Teague said afterward. “I think those guys spent a lot of time together over the summer, you can tell. We didn’t see each other until the season started, so we got a little more time to get right, but we’ve got to hurry up.”
The problem for Thibodeau is that, for one of the first times in his head coaching tenure, he couldn't keep all the issues going on inside his locker room from leaking out.
It was an open secret throughout the league last season that Towns, and fellow max player Andrew Wiggins, didn't show the type of consistent work ethic that Butler respects. There were far too many lapses from both players, especially Wiggins, that left Butler and others within the Timberwolves organization shaking their collective heads. As usual, Thibodeau figured he could get through the summer, get the players into camp, and put in more work so that his team could improve together. After all, one of the veteran coach's favorite mantras is that "the magic is in the work."
While Thibodeau said on Monday that last week was the first time Butler made a trade request, the warning signs of discontent were there much earlier. After the Rockets eliminated the Timberwolves in the first round of the playoffs in May, Butler did not fly with the team back to Minnesota, sources said. He took a flight to Los Angeles shortly after the game was over and refused to do the standard medical exam all players go through as part of their exit interviews.
Christopher Hine: Tom Thibodeau declined to talk about any discussions he had with Jimmy Butler yesterday. Said the organization is still working to honor Butler’s trade request.
Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden, who is the point man for trade conversations, continue to leave rival executives and owners unclear about both the specific players and broader kinds of assets that the Wolves value in a deal, sources said. Even more doubt exists about whether there's even yet alignment between Taylor and Thibodeau on a structure and a timetable for a deal, league sources told ESPN.
John Meyer: Taj Gibson says all of this Jimmy Butler stuff really is distracting and it’s a weird feeling right before training camp. He also said Butler gave him a big hug after his physical today and he understands the NBA is a business.
Christopher Hine: Gibson on if Butler's trade talks are a distraction: "It is. It really is. You look at the talent and the strides we took last year just to get to the playoffs, so many up and downs and you get hit with a right hook before training camp, it's weird."
Christopher Hine: Towns on signing the contract and his relationship with Butler: "That situation never had anything to do with Jimmy. It was me and Glen Taylor and it got handled."
Right now, there’s no reason for any of the places Butler reportedly wants to go to give up picks or young players as part of a package for him. (Sources indicated over the weekend that the Knicks, supposedly one of those teams, haven’t made any inquiries about the 29 year old.) The Nets and Clippers, the two other teams reportedly on his short list, will have room for at least one -- and, most likely, two -- max free agents in the Summer of 2019. Each can just wait for Butler to opt out of his final year and become an unrestricted free agent, at which they can offer him a four-year max deal.
Butler had his own double standard. Privately and publicly he occasionally roasted both Wiggins and Towns for their shoddy defensive effort and acumen. But the most consequentially bad defender on the Wolves, by far, last season was Jamal Crawford, the sixth man who played 42 percent of his team’s minutes and compiled a defensive rating of 112.9 points allowed per 100 possessions. Phoenix finished last in team defensive efficiency allowing 110.6 points per 100 possessions. Towns and Wiggins both had a defensive rating of 107.7 points allowed per 100 possessions. But Butler never felt the need to criticize Crawford, who also had a higher usage rate on offense than anyone on the Wolves but Butler and another ex-Bull, Derrick Rose.
Butler has clashed with Towns and Wiggins as teammates, league sources said. Butler's and Wiggins' tension played out on social media in recent days.
But all of that affection from Towns seemed to disappear this summer as the Wolves were thrust into the headlines for rumors of chemistry issues and a disconnect with coach and president Tom Thibodeau. It’s been no secret that Towns and Thibs have never quite been on the same page in their two years together, and the relationship wasn’t helped when Thibodeau in May let go of assistant coach Vince Legarza, who worked closely with Towns in his first three seasons in the league.
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.
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?
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 it’s not often a player gets called out the way Wiggins has been called out by his peers, and so the whispers about his lack of passion and commitment to the task are gathering to full-blown shouts. How Wiggins responds could well define an NBA career that has certainly shown promise — the only players in NBA history to score 6,000 career points at a younger age than Wiggins did are LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady — but has often been dismissed as too many empty calories, leaving observers and (apparently) teammates wondering if he’s ever going to give all that his package of ability and skill would suggest is there is to give. I’ve heard Timberwolves executives wonder about the exact same thing.
“It just wasn’t a happy environment,” Crawford said. “I thought I would be playing more before I signed. It ended up being the second fewest minutes I’ve ever played. Just wasn’t a fit or went like I was under the impression it would.”

http://twitter.com/hoopshype/status/1042680184946581505
Internet Detectives Present Evidence That Jimmy Butler Hooked Up With Karl-Anthony Towns' GF Which Caused Their Breakup & Was Part of The Reason Butler Demanded Trade (Tweets-IG-Pics-Vid) http://bit.ly/2Ddlm9U Karl-Anthony Towns: 😂😂😂 #FakeNews
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.
Darren Wolfson: As someone with a vested interest texted, "Glen must be beside himself." Definitely curious to eventually hear the owner's thoughts. #Twolves
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.
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.
Storyline: Minnesota Timberwolves Turmoil
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