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Jimmy Butler Trade Rumors: Tom Thibodeau Expected to Leave Before Dealing SG

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2018

ST. PAUL, MN - AUGUST 27:  Head Coach Tom Thibodeau of the Minnesota Timberwolves visits with media and fans on August 27, 2018 at The Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, Minnesota.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
David Sherman/Getty Images

Jimmy Butler might not be the only one leaving Minnesota.

Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported coach Tom Thibodeau has no interest in trading Butler as part of a rebuilding project and would rather leave the franchise than move him for young players and draft picks.

"No one expects Tom to coach a 25-win or even 35-win team," a front-office executive said. "Even if he has to agree to dissolve the contract, they'd do that before they go and trade Butler for draft picks."

Thibodeau has full personnel control with the Timberwolves, so no trade would happen without his approval. That would likely mean Minnesota would only accept a veteran-for-veteran swap—similar to the Kawhi Leonard-DeMar DeRozan deal earlier this summer.

Thibodeau could also look to keep Butler and hope the relationship turns around with him and his teammates. 

"A lot of this has to do with the work ethic of those young guys, and sometimes young guys just click and they get it out of the blue," one league general manager said. "For Thibs, that would be the way he prefers to play this.

"He has a great relationship with Jimmy, and if he can just get him to give the team a chance, he’s got a shot at defusing this whole thing by Christmas."

Based on social media interactions Thursday, the chances of that happening seem slim. Andrew Wiggins' brother, Nick, tweeted out "hallelujah" when news of Butler's trade request became public. Butler responded to that tweet on Instagram, posting a story saying "hallelujah" and telling Nick to "keep that same energy."

Thibodeau, 60, is 78-86 in two years with the Timberwolves. He led them to a 16-win improvement in 2017-18, but things already appear to be backsliding with Butler wanting out. 

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