Storyline: Minnesota Timberwolves Turmoil

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“I absolutely hate — hate to fucking lose, and the way that we go about things sometimes isn’t the right way, myself included, and a lot of other people as well. I just think that, man, whenever you win, everything takes care of itself. But we’ve got to figure out a way to do that, man. No matter what, all I want to do is win. I don’t care what anybody says, any media outlet, anybody says as a person, the one thing they can’t say is that I don’t want to win.”

A few moments later, Jimmy Butler finished changing and was asked if he agreed with Rose’s assessment – that the Wolves needed more self-criticism. Butler didn’t mince words. “Do I agree with it? Yeah. But I don’t think everybody can handle it,” Butler said. “I don’t. I know actually. But I’m with him on it. … Everybody got to talk to one another and be able to handle it if somebody says something they may not like. We’re all grown men.”

In an exclusive interview with Yahoo Sports, Butler was adamant that he wasn’t putting on an act and stressed that he genuinely enjoys being around his teammates even though he wants to be traded. “These are my guys,” the four-time All-Star told Yahoo Sports after scoring 21 points and dishing out five assists. “Look, [my situation] don’t got [expletive] to do with me and everybody in this [expletive] locker room. I love these [expletive]. I’m going to keep it one hundred with you. I love these guys. So, when everybody says, ‘Oh, there’s going to be a problem in the locker room.’ Yeah, all right. Does it look like there’s a problem in the locker room?”

It’s been over six weeks since Butler first requested a trade, and there have been multiple developments during that span that could lead one to question whether Butler is being a negative influence on the Timberwolves’ young core of Karl-Anthony Towns (22) and Wiggins (23). But the four-time All-Star disputes that perception. “I don’t give a [expletive] [what people think],” Butler told Yahoo Sports. “I don’t. I swear to you. Because I know where I’m at with my guys. I know how I am as a person. They can write whatever they want, they can say whatever they want and I can address it the way that I want to. But at the end of the day, I go to war with my guys. Those are my guys. We’re out there trying to win. Nothing is going to come between us. I’m going to play the right way, do what I do, and they know that. They know that.”
1 month ago via ESPN

Butler, who has asked for a trade from the Timberwolves, sat out Wednesday’s game because of general soreness and made it clear that he might decide to sit out one of the team’s next two games, as well. The Timberwolves play at the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night and at the LA Clippers on Monday night. “I let them know,” Butler said after Friday’s 116-99 loss to the Golden State Warriors. “They don’t know how my body feels. So if I’m nicked up, then you can count on that. I don’t know. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know what we plan on doing tomorrow. Obviously, I got to get some treatment along with a lot of other guys. But we’ll see whenever Sunday and Monday gets here.”
1 month ago via ESPN

“I’m not worried about no deal,” Butler said. “Injury or not, I got to take care of myself. I realize they have a job to do as an organization; I have one to do as a player. But if I’m not in the right with my body to go out there and do it, I don’t want to get hurt. I’ve been hurt almost every year now, so we’re going to take things with caution.” Butler said he would “see how his body feels” before making a decision, but he did not reveal what particular injury he might be dealing with. “If all of this talk wasn’t going on and I sat out because my body was sore, you would not be asking me things like that,” Butler said.
1 month ago via ESPN

And even when mistakes are made — particularly on defense, where there might be a missed rotation — Towns said he’s more interested in trying to figure out how to remedy the situation on the fly. Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons he’s learned thus far came from playing next to Kevin Garnett. “You realize there are a lot of mistakes that can be covered up by pure hustle,” Towns said, explaining that an imperfect defensive possession can still be salvaged if he and his teammates show enough effort to force a miss. This inconsistency from Towns and Wiggins is a swing skill for Minnesota’s future.

Rachel Nichols: Spoke to Jimmy Butler, who told me he plans to sit out of tonight’s Wolves game “because my body is hurting” after he missed nearly all of training camp. He said he doesn’t want to see any soreness escalate into injury as he continues to seek resolution to his situation with Minnesota. He strongly pushed back on any idea he is sitting out tonight as a protest and confirmed Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that plans to fly with the team to Oakland and play against Golden State. He said he plans to be in the arena for tonight’s game as well.

Jimmy​ Butler is​ not​ playing in​ the Timberwolves’ game​ on Wednesday​ night​ against Utah, the latest​ step in a six-week​​ standoff between the disgruntled All-Star and the team that has not yet granted his wish to be traded, league sources told The Athletic. Butler showed up to the team’s shootaround on Wednesday morning, but did not participate, sources said. After the session was over, he had a brief conversation with coach and president Tom Thibodeau about his decision and declined interview requests.

Shams Charania: Jimmy Butler is taking next step in six-week-long process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota by sitting tonight against Utah, and could lead to extended absence for Butler, league sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Butler started contemplating not playing tonight on Tuesday, and the final decision was made Wednesday morning, sources tell me and @JonKrawczynski. Timberwolves termed it “general soreness and precautionary rest,” but Butler informed Tom Thibodeau of his decision.

Christopher Hine: Taj Gibson from today’s practice when asked if the Butler situation was seeping into the team’s performance (1/2): “No team is ever going to go through a perfect season unscathed. Everybody has a story at the end of the year sometimes of triumph and sometimes falling down. We’re in a crazy situation, kind of difficult, but we have to push through it. That’s why we’re professionals. We have to go into every practice, into every game with a smile on your face and push yourself.”

Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 16 points for a listless Minnesota squad dealing with the distraction of star Jimmy Butler’s trade request. Butler started despite being questionable with an illness and had a season-low four points on 2-of-11 shooting. “I think I was a lot like everybody else,” Butler said, downplaying the illness. “We let our offense dictate what our defense was going to bring. Me, speaking for myself, I can never let that happen. My entire career has been my defense dictates my offense. Bad one; it’s behind me right now this second. Hopefully, it is for everybody else.”

Jimmy Butler encouraged the fans to boo him, and the Minnesota crowd obliged. But some appeared to quickly forget their anger. The Timberwolves’ home opener began Friday night with Butler getting heartily booed during introductions before facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. It ended with Butler on the free-throw line to seal a 131-123 victory and some of the same fans showering the disgruntled star with an “M-V-P!” chant. “I knew as soon as I made an effort play, it was going to turn into cheers,” Butler said. “I like it, though. Like I told you, it’s OK to boo me. I’m still going to play hard. I’m still going to try to my best to help win games. Boos, cheers, silence, I’ve got a job to do.”

Even Wiggins, long a target of Butler’s chiding and prodding, insisted that he had no issues with the demanding veteran. Not now, not ever, despite his brother’s famous “Hallelujah!” tweet when news first broke of Butler’s desire to be traded. “We’ve never had any major problems. No problems at all,” Wiggins said. “Even when everyone said all that stuff happened in practice, nothing had to do with me. I was just there hooping. “But everyone has something to say. Once it’s out there, then everyone has their own opinion. The story gets broken down into 1,000 pieces. But at the end of the day, we’re all here to hoop. It’s always a plus to have Jimmy on the team.”
2 months ago via ESPN

Minnesota star center Karl-Anthony Towns suggested it wasn’t clear whether the team was “ready” for the start of the regular season, given how poorly Minnesota played during the preseason amid questions surrounding Butler’s trade request. And Butler himself sounded unsure as to exactly how he’d react if his teammates didn’t show enough intensity now that the season is upon them. “I think we’ll bring [the intensity]. If not, you’ll see me yelling at people. That’s what I’m supposed to do,” Butler said. “And you’ll see me talking with guys nicely. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Q: Will Jimmy Butler ever get traded? I’m starting to feel bad for the guy. — @codylaws2 from Twitter. Marc Stein: I remain convinced that, yes, Butler will be traded — somehow. Things have gotten so farcical just since our last newsletter that the Timberwolves surely understand, deep down, that trying to hang onto Butler for a little longer, like the Denver Nuggets did with Carmelo Anthony in 2010 after a trade with the Nets collapsed shortly before training camp, is doomed to flop in the Twin Cities. Unless Wolves management are intent on emasculating their young cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins to an even more damaging degree than we’ve already seen, I would suspect that, at some stage, Minnesota Owner Glen Taylor will realize that the wisest course is to direct his coach and team president, Tom Thibodeau, to focus all his energies on prioritizing the two players whose long-term contracts are valued at nearly $340 million combined.

But LaVine got more personal and detailed in offering support for former teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Both players’ work ethic has been called into question both publicly and privately by Butler. “KAT and Wigs are some of my good friends,” LaVine said. “Wigs just had his newborn baby and congratulations to him on that. And KAT is a really laid-back dude, but they are extremely competitive at the same time. They work hard. I feel like they are getting some flak because some people are saying they don’t work hard. People in the organization are saying that. But I think they are extremely hard workers.

Three days before the start of the regular season, Taylor met with his disgruntled All-Star before practice, searching for some sort of understanding to calm the noise that has drowned out any sense of excitement for the upcoming season. In the meeting, Taylor and Butler came to an agreement, sources said: Taylor will continue to work diligently to find a trade as soon as possible. Until that happens, Butler will be a good teammate and play as hard as he always does.
2 months ago via ESPN

“We don’t got no more time to be here saying, ‘Aw, it’s OK; it’s preseason.’ This momentum we’re riding right now, this wave we’re riding, it’s not good. It’s not good at all,” said Wolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who finished 2-of-9 shooting for eight points. Towns said the nature of the loss bothered him most. “I really don’t damn know,” he said when asked why the club has failed to put together solid 48-minute stretches this preseason. “But if you find out, let me know. You can get beat. Everybody in this league — I don’t care if you’re the Golden State Warriors my rookie year, the 95-96 Bulls — you’re gonna lose some games. But you can’t get embarrassed. That’s just unacceptable.”

“Jimmy’s a guy, his whole career, he made it into the league off work, off him having to grind and scratch and claw to get to where he’s at,” George said. “And then he sees the potential he has around him and he just wants guys to match that because if guys are skilled and have that ‘it’ like KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) has, like Andrew Wiggins has, they have that ‘it’ that a lot of guys don’t have, now they just have to match it with what Jimmy’s bringing to the table. I’m all for what Jimmy is trying to do over there.”

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.

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.

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.
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December 10, 2018 | 9:48 am EST Update
While New Orleans is trying to win enough to convince Davis to stay, the rest of the league is ruminating about what it would take to pry Davis away. Such speculation is happening constantly now, but executives around the league see virtually no chance that Davis is traded before the Pelicans can offer him that super-max extension in July. New Orleans, as it should, will do everything it can to keep Davis — and will move on from him only if it absolutely has to.
56 mins ago via ESPN
If that happens, the Pelicans will have only one logical option: to trade Davis before he leaves in free agency. The same process has played out with several others, including Leonard, Jimmy Butler, DeMarcus Cousins and Paul George. None of them, though, would inspire the kind of bidding war an available Davis would. “That’s what you guys do,” Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said of the trade speculation. “You guys talk about it. He’s here. He’s playing on our team. We’re trying to win games. That’s the only thing that matters right now. “It’s not anything that I’m going to have a say-so in or anything else, so we don’t bother with it. We worry about now. We worry about winning games and putting everybody in the best position to win games.”
56 mins ago via ESPN
Interestingly, Jimmy Butler and Brown agreed in separate interviews Sunday that the Sixers’ offensive spacing is fine. Butler has flourished here since arriving Nov. 12, having scored 38 points in each of the past two outings. “I think the spacing is great,” Butler said. “I think we have a lot of guys that can put the ball in the basket. We just have to pick and choose where we’re going to be at a certain time. As long as we keep sharing the ball the way that we share the ball and guarding, I’m telling you, we’re going to win.
As for Embiid, Butler can empathize with having to adjust on the fly. “I know where his heart is, man,” Butler said. “I can feel for him. It’s new for myself. It’s new to him. It’s new to everybody. But we’re O.K. I know he wants to win. “He’s frustrated. He wanted to play (Friday and) coach didn’t let him play. We need him. He’s been doing a lot on both ends of the floor for this team. As our best player, I can understand him being frustrated. We’ll figure out ways to make sure he’s successful.”
But here they are, still together. Perhaps it’s because of Wade’s nature. Those who know him well will tell you he takes after his grandmother, who helped raise him and was extremely giving, accepting and forgiving. To be James’ friend for any length of time, maybe it requires a person whom James respects, but also someone who is willing to deal with the challenges James’ personality brings with it. Wade is one of the greatest players in NBA history; James certainly respects that. And Wade has been willing to roll with James’ changing moods and desires over the years. If Wade has ever held any grudge, it has never been apparent.
56 mins ago via ESPN
And Lillard, 28, is something of a media chaos agent: He had the NBA watchers watching him this summer as he broke news of reporters changing jobs, reminding them — occasionally by force — that no one at this level is in the business of keeping secrets. “Nobody knew where I was getting my information from,” Lillard would recall, and the power and insider knowledge was at times intoxicating.