Jimmy Butler Trade Rumors: Timberwolves Telling Teams They Intend to Keep SG

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistSeptember 21, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) in the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 5, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

Despite Jimmy Butler's unhappiness with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team doesn't appear eager to move the four-time All-Star. 

Per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Timberwolves are telling clubs interested in acquiring Butler they intend to keep him. 

However, Wojnarowski noted opposing teams could be able to go through Minnesota's ownership to facilitate a deal, and T'Wolves owner Glen Taylor is in New York for the league meetings on Friday. 

The Athletic's Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday that Butler requested a trade from the Timberwolves. 

Wojnarowski added Butler gave Minnesota a list of three preferred destinations that includes the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks.

Prior to Butler's trade request, Wojnarowski noted Taylor has "significant concern" about the franchise's outlook under head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden:

"From friction within the locker room to the basketball operations group's poor relationship with the business side, Butler's looming free agency only elevates the stakes for Thibodeau's future. Thibodeau is starting the third year of a five-year deal.

"Thibodeau is under tremendous pressure to re-sign Butler, for whom the Wolves traded Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a No. 7 overall pick that turned into Lauri Markkanen in 2017."

The pressure on Thibodeau and his tenuous position with the Timberwolves could lead to opposing positions on how to handle the situation with Butler, per Wojnarowski:

"Thibodeau doesn't want to trade Butler, especially in a scenario that imperils the franchise's ability to reach the playoffs for a second straight year after missing the postseason the previous 13 seasons, league sources said.

"Because of Thibodeau's uncertain long-term status with ownership, Taylor could have a different view on how to handle the trade request given the possibility that Butler could leave Minnesota in summer free agency without the Wolves getting back the kind of assets that would come with a trade."

Among the sources of locker-room friction is the fractured relationship between Butler and Andrew Wiggins. 

"Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins—Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor," Sean Deveney of Sporting News reported in June. 

Butler can become a free agent next summer if he opts out of his contract. He averaged 22.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game last season to help Minnesota reach the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.

 

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