Jimmy Butler has a meeting set for Monday with Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden to “have honest conversations about the All-Star’s future with the team,” a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.
Butler can opt out of his contract next summer, and Krawczynski suggests he may have reached “a fork in the road” after one season in Minnesota. Butler has said repeatedly that he wants the chance to compete for a title and he may not believe that’s possible with the Wolves, who claimed the No. 8 seed last season and were ousted in five games in the first round.
Butler remains close with Thibodeau, who also coached him in Chicago, Krawczynski adds, and wants to hear his coach’s road map for the future before deciding on his next move.
Butler had a strong first year in Minnesota, posting a 22.2/5.3/4.9 line and making the All-Star team for the fourth time. He brought star power to an inexperienced team that hadn’t reached the postseason since 2004.
However, there have been reports that Butler often clashed with the Wolves’ younger players, especially Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Thibodeau has downplayed those rumors, but they haven’t gone away.
Butler is considered a virtual lock to opt out of a $19.84MM salary for 2019/20 and become a free agent. He will be eligible to receive a five-year, $188MM contract from the Wolves or a four-year, $139MM deal from anyone else. There has been talk that Butler and Kyrie Irving, who both turned down extensions this summer, are interested in joining forces.
If Minnesota officials don’t come out of Monday’s meeting with the feeling that Butler is likely to re-sign, a trade becomes more likely before the February deadline. Plenty of offers would surely be coming for one of the league’s most talented and most competitive players, who just turned 29 yesterday.