Timberwolves 2016 NBA Draft Rumors: Latest Buzz, Speculation on No. 5 Pick

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured Columnist

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 11:  Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls shoots a free throw during the second half of a game against the New Orleans Pelicans at the Smoothie King Center on April 11, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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Multiple rumors swirl around the Minnesota Timberwolves as the 2016 NBA Draft approaches. The Timberwolves currently hold the fifth overall pick in the draft. 

Continue for updates. 


Hield on Timberwolves' Radar 

Thursday, June 23

If Kris Dunn is selected before the Timberwolves have the chance to draft him at No. 5, Minnesota head coach Tom Thibodeau has Oklahoma's Buddy Hield as the next highest player on his board, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical. 


Timberwolves Targeting Jimmy Butler

Monday, June 13

According to ESPN.com's Marc Stein and Chad Ford, the Timberwolves are "making [the] No. 5 overall pick available in hopes of tempting [the Chicago] Bulls into [a] Jimmy Butler trade."

Stein and Ford elaborated:

Sources told ESPN.com that the Wolves, in these early days of the Tom Thibodeau Era, have made it known to the Bulls that they are strongly interested in dealing for Butler should Chicago elect to make him available. The Bulls are not believed to be actively looking to move their All-Star swingman but have been listening to pitches for Butler.

Perhaps most importantly, Stein and Ford reported trading the No. 5 pick straight up for Butler "clearly wouldn't be sufficient."

In other words, the Timberwolves would need to assemble a package of players and picks to convince the Bulls that they should part with the All-Star swingman who experienced an up-and-down 2015-16 season. 

After the Bulls fired Thibodeau and replaced him with Fred Hoiberg, Butler and the team's new boss reportedly butted heads while the locker room splintered a bit. 

According to a March report from The Vertical's Chris Mannix, grievances cropped up, including "Hoiberg’s inability to hold players accountablea complaint registered publicly by Butler last December and one that lingers in the locker room today, a source saidto Butler’s shoddy shot selection to the disconnect within the team offensively."

Another report from ESPN's Chris Broussard (h/t Pro Basketball Talk's Dan Feldman) suggested there was growing resentment for Butler among older Bulls players:

There’s a division. There’s all types of dysfunction in Chicago. There’s kind of a division in that locker room.

The younger players see Butler as the leader. He’s clearly been their best player the last two years. They see him as the leader.

The other guys, the veterans who’ve been there, it’s not so much of disrespect of Jimmy, but they don’t see him as the team as the team leader. They remember when you were averaging two points a game.

While the disconnect in the locker room could point to a potential departure, Minnesota would evidently need to blow Chicago away in order to add Butler to its talented young core.

Not only is Butler entering his prime at 26 years old, but he also signed a five-year, $90 million deal last summer that will look like a bargain when viewed through the prism of the league's rising salary cap.

That sort of value will soon become increasingly rare, so the Bulls should hold plenty of bargaining power in the days ahead.

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