NBA Rumors: Jimmy Butler 'Didn't Like' Wolves Players' 'Lack of Professionalism'

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2020

Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler (22) handles the ball during the first half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Boston Celtics on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler's tenure with the Minnesota Timberwolves ended after just over one season, and Butler's view of his T-Wolves teammates reportedly played a big role in his departure.

According to Marc Berman of the New York Post, one source said Butler had an issue with the way the Timberwolves players conducted themselves:

"Butler didn't like some of the guys' lack of professionalism. [Jimmy] and [then-Timberwolves head coach] Tom [Thibodeau] had long talks about how to deal with it. When Butler realized it was unsolvable, he lashed out at the organization. His clock was ticking on his prime and didn't want to waste it and forced his way out. Tommy was telling him to have patience, see it through."

After just 69 games with Minnesota over parts of two seasons, Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers in November 2018. Butler then signed a four-year deal with the Heat as part of a sign-and-trade, and he has helped lead Miami to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first season with the team.

In his only full season with the Timberwolves in 2017-18, Butler enjoyed one of his best statistical campaigns, as he averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game en route to an All-Star nod.

He also led Minnesota to its first playoff appearance since the 2003-04 campaign. It is likely no coincidence that the Timberwolves failed to reach the playoffs in each of the past two seasons without Butler.

Butler enjoyed a great deal of success early in his career with the Chicago Bulls when Thibodeau was his head coach, but the combination didn't work in Minnesota. That seemingly had more to do with Butler not meshing with his teammates than his relationship with Thibodeau.

When the T-Wolves acquired Butler, he was tasked with helping cultivate the skills of young players such as Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler's in-your-face style may have done more to push them away than motivate them, however.

Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported in October 2018 that Butler yelled "they ain't s--t" and "they soft" at Wiggins and Towns during an infamous practice shortly before the Timberwolves traded him.

Butler admitted to ESPN's Rachel Nichols that he was hard on Towns and Wiggins, but he also called Towns the Timberwolves' "most talented player" and Wiggins the Timberwolves' "most God-gifted player."

His motivational techniques didn't work in Minnesota, but Butler seems to have landed in the perfect spot with the Heat.

Butler's leadership has worked wonders in Miami, as Bam Adebayo became an All-Star this season, while other young players such as Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn have elevated their games as well.


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