By: Bryce Fields
Yes, I understand all the basics that Adrian Wojnarowki and Shams Charania have been tweeting about in the Jimmy Butler/Minnesota Timberwolves fiasco. The short story, as summed up by yours truly, – is that Butler, a crazy-fierce competitor, hates being on the T-Wolves. Apparently, that hate is fueled by that lack of competitiveness in Minnesota, specifically from young stars Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins. This hatred is apparently mutual, because Wiggins has been on social media taking subtle shots at Butler (which was later said to be at Stephen Jackson, which is just a God-awful idea for Wiggins), and the T-Wolves gave KAT a 5-year contract extension in the midst of the Butler drama. So, yes, I do see how the tension in Minnesota is high.
However, what I am not seeing is how in the hell it got to this breaking point, on both sides. First, Jimmy boy – is it seriously this bad? You spent the past couple seasons prior rotting in Chicago as the only reason that team even made the playoffs. I can personally tell you that Bulls fans felt bad for you, and we were glad to see you move on to a team with more potential while you are in the prime of your career. So, you got shipped out in a draft-day trade (that landed the Bulls fans with NBA All-Rookie team member Lauri Markkanen, so you won’t see me complaining) to the Timberwolves. In my mind, this should have been perfect relationship for you. Minnesota was on the come-up with young talent, several solid veteran role players, and the aspirations of finally making the playoffs since the prehistoric age.
Which then moves me to my next issue: how did the Timberwolves manage to screw this thing up? For the first time in over a decade, they finally had something to look forward to. You have back-to-back Rookie of the Year’s in Wiggins and Anthony-Towns, put together a strong supporting cast, then land All-NBA wing Jimmy freakin’ Butler. Life must have been good in Minnesota for a hot minute.
Then, things began to unravel. To be fair, I kind of saw it coming. When Butler was named a Western Conference All-Star but asked to sit out of the game, it seemed…. odd. That’s when I finally started putting pieces of the puzzle together, and realized the wheels were coming off the wagon for the Timberwolves.
Former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was brought in to run the team and more, and Thibs comes as real as it gets. He will ask all of you and then some, something that pushed Butler, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and company to the Eastern Conference Finals back in Chi-Town. However, that was almost a decade ago, and things are different now. Thibodeau ran the tread off the starters in Minnesota, which probably led to their late-season collapse that almost had them miss the playoffs altogether (now THAT would have made this situation even better). Butler balled out, but Wiggins and KAT came up short in the playoffs, and they were bounced in the first round by the Houston Rockets.
All of that led to this point. Now Butler wants out, which under the circumstances I thought I would be behind. If Butler thinks the direction of the franchise is wrong, he deserves to be in a situation he is comfortable in. The disgruntled Butler says he wants out, and has three teams he would like to be traded to.
This is the part of the story that things go haywire. Butler publicly says he wants to be traded to the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lake-Clippers, excuse me, and the…. Brooklyn Nets? Am I miss something here? His apparent problem with the T-Wolves were the lack of winning drive, then he turns around and says he wants to be on either a super mediocre Heat team, the other team in L.A that have a bunch of random players, or… the Nets? I mean, I don’t think this could be anymore comical or ironic. Basically, Butler finessed the Wolves into putting him on the trade block because “he wants to win” only that so he could get out of Minnesota, literally, and spend his time in Miami, L.A., or NYC. As a person, I applaud Butler for the work he has done to get himself out of a bad situation. But as a basketball and NBA fan? Wow, Butler just left a stain on his resume that people will always see.
I just don’t think anyone could have expected this meltdown in Minnesota. Bringing in a potential top-10 player like Butler on an up-and-coming squad like the Timberwolves should have been a match made in heaven. I guess it was too perfect to be true, and it is going to hurt the legacies of a great player and a promising franchise. The Timberwolves are going to be set back years by this since Wiggins and KAT are definitely not enough to compete for real in the West. Both are under contract for awhile and all one can hope is that their progression continues once more role players are placed around them. That, or a(nother) rebuild is set to happen in Minnesota.
A lot of the same goes for Butler. Despite his greatness, Butler is still almost 30-years old with a history of injuries, so the time for him to win is now. Instead, he is going to end up getting paid to stay for awhile in one of those cities named above, none which have a realistic chance of winning much at all.
In just writing this about the Butler situation, I felt all kinds of emotions. I started off confused at the situation, which turned angry when I saw the selfishness of both parties, and now I am just sad. The Timberwolves fan base deserved more out of the best payer to play for them since Kevin Garnett, and it is sad Butler felt like he needed to head out of Minnesota so soon. Overall, it is an all-around bad situation between Butler and the T-Wolves.