Glen Taylor

Wolves Notes: Hoiberg, Saunders, Wiggins, Thibodeau

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is trying to quell speculation that Fred Hoiberg is in line for a coaching or front office job with the organization, relays Danny Lawhon of The Des Moines Register. Hoiberg, who was fired by the Bulls last month, has past experience with Minnesota, both as a player and an assistant GM. But during a trip to Iowa today to see the team’s G League affiliate in action, Taylor emphasized that he is committed to seeing what interim coach Ryan Saunders can do.

“My goal would be that Ryan would be successful,” Taylor said. “That would be the ideal thing for us.” Saunders, the youngest coach in the league at age 32, got off to a good start Tuesday with a win at Oklahoma City.

Taylor told reporters he reached out to Hoiberg after he was fired in Chicago last month, but hasn’t talked to him since the Wolves dismissed Tom Thibodeau on Sunday.

“We had already made up our mind on Ryan (as interim coach), because Ryan has worked with these players, been there all year,” Taylor said. “That was the easiest way to make the transition.”

There’s more Timberwolves news to pass along:

  • Saunders didn’t get much time to prepare before taking the reins as head coach, writes Sid Hartman of The Star Tribune. He left the Target Center after Sunday’s win over the Lakers, but was asked to return and learned that Thibodeau has been fired. He ran his first practice Monday and had his first game as head coach last night. “With not a lot of sleep, coffee and not a ton of food,” he said of the process. “There wasn’t much time to do anything other than prepare. Really just trying to dive into the work. And talking to the team, to meet with the players and get their thoughts on things.”
  • Saunders held individual meetings with each player on the roster, including one in which he encouraged Andrew Wiggins to become more assertive on the court, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Wiggins responded Tuesday with 40 points and 10 rebounds. “He’s excited. We’re excited for him,” Wiggins said. “To get this win for him, I know it means a lot to him and his family. We’re going to keep at it.”
  • Thibodeau will probably have to be successful as an assistant again before he gets another head coaching job, states Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. He cites Thibodeau’s strained relationship with the front offices in both Minnesota and Chicago as reasons that other teams will be reluctant to give him much power right away.

Latest On Tom Thibodeau, Wolves

Contrary to a report that emerged last night in the wake of Tom Thibodeau’s firing in Minnesota, former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg is not an “immediate candidate” to become the team’s next coach or president, a source tells Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic.

Interim coach Ryan Saunders will be given an opportunity to earn the job on a permanent basis, Krawczynski adds, and he has strong support from his players, who respect his work ethic and welcome his approachable nature as a change from Thibodeau. The organization will consider hiring an assistant who has experience as a head coach to help Saunders with the challenges of his new position.

GM Scott Layden was retained last night and will likely remain in place for the rest of the season, but he may need the team to make the playoffs to keep his job beyond that.

While the Wolves have a disappointing 19-21 record, the decision to part with Thibodeau was based on business as much as basketball, Krawczynski writes. The coach had become unpopular with fans, who routinely booed him every time his name was announced in pre-game introductions. Even worse, they were staying away, as Minnesota has dropped to 29th in home attendance after ranking 21st last season. The organization didn’t want to keep an alienating presence in place with a season ticket drive looming.

It’s no secret that owner Glen Taylor was unhappy with Thibodeau and Layden over how they handled the situation with Jimmy Butler before he was traded to the Sixers. Taylor commented several times that he believed both men were dragging their feet on Butler’s trade request and that they let the volatile star hijack the team during training camp and the early season.

Thibodeau has long had a reputation of giving heavy minutes to his starters, and several players complained about poor communication over their roles. Krawczynski reports that Gorgui Dieng, who has fallen out of the rotation after signing a huge contract, was “openly seething” in the locker room after Friday’s game. Tyus Jones, Anthony Tolliver and Jeff Teague have also expressed frustration over their status on the team.

As one of the few remaining coach/executives left in the league, Thibodeau’s standing was also harmed by several personnel decisions that didn’t work out. He was the driving force behind the decision to send Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a draft pick that turned out to be Lauri Markkanen to the Bulls to acquire Butler. He also convinced Taylor to part with Ricky Rubio in exchange for Teague. And of course, he was responsible for bringing Taj Gibson, Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, his former players in Chicago, to Minnesota to form the “Timber-Bulls.”

Taylor was in Florida last night as Layden and CEO Ethan Casson delivered the news to Thibodeau. Taylor’s only comment came in an official statement from the organization, saying, “These decisions are never easy to make, but we felt them necessary to move our organization forward.”

Wolves Demanding Eric Gordon From Rockets

The Rocketslatest attempt to get Jimmy Butler from the Timberwolves by offering Brandon Knight, Marquese Chriss and four first-round picks is a non-starter, according to Malika Andrews of ESPN, who hears from sources that Minnesota won’t consider any deal that doesn’t include Eric Gordon.

Coach Tom Thibodeau is focused on returning to the playoffs and wants a trade that will benefit the team right away. Knight and Chriss are both injured and neither has been effective over the past two seasons in Phoenix. Thibodeau still has three years and $24MM left on his contract, but there have been rumors that his job may be in jeopardy if the Wolves commit to a full rebuilding project.

Plan A for Thibodeau is to hold onto Butler for as long as possible — possibly until February’s trade deadline — to help with the playoff push, Andrews adds. However, the team is off to a 2-4 start, including a 30-point loss last night to the Bucks, so that strategy isn’t off to a great start.

Butler, who started the process with a trade request last month, has received assurances from owner Glen Taylor that the team will continue to pursue a deal, according to Andrews, who hears from sources that another serious effort will be made about 10 to 15 games into the season.

Taylor has put GM Scott Layden in charge of working out a trade while Thibodeau coaches the team. The Heat and Sixers remain interested and Taylor has been hoping both teams will consider increasing their offers.

“I don’t consider anything drama,” Butler told reporters after a season-low four-point performance Friday. “I consider it business.”

Wolves Notes: Garnett, Taylor, Thibodeau

Kevin Garnett is not a shy person when it comes to speaking his mind and he offered his thoughts on the Jimmy Butler saga during an appearance on TNT’s pregame show.

“I totally understand [Butler]. I totally get it. And he’s dealing with [owner Glen Taylor], who doesn’t know [expletive] about basketball,” Garnett said (h/t AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today). “He knows how to make money, but he don’t know anything about basketball. I wouldn’t say that he’s the best basketball mind.”

Taylor said he reached an understanding with Butler: the Wolves’ wing will play to his full ability while the team continues to search for a trade offer. “I think [Butler has] made it very clear that he would not re-sign with us at the end of the year and therefore it is in our interest to get a trade so that we can get a player or two to replace him that helps our team,” Taylor said.

Here’s more from Minnesota:

  • Taylor gave a vote of confidence to Tom Thibodeau, telling Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune that the executive/head coach is not on the hot seat. “No, no, the only thing now is that we are starting to play games and I am asking him to concentrate on coaching,” Taylor said. “GM Scott Layden will help to see if any trades are available.”
  • Taylor told Hartman (same piece) that he is alright with how Thibodeau handed the whole Butler situation so far. “Well, I’m OK with it,” Taylor said. “Initially, when Butler told [Thibodeau] he wanted to leave, you know Tom did everything he could to try to keep Jimmy here and I understand that. They have a close relationship. Thibs brought him here so that he would stay here. But eventually I think that in listening to Jimmy, Thibs and I are lined up on this. We need to be looking at a trade.”
  • Taylor has owned the Timberwolves since 1994 and the messy situation with Butler has not made him think about selling the team, Hartman relays. “No, no, we will get through this,” he said. “The changes we have to make, we will get through this. I’ll just keep working and doing the best I can on it to keep our team very competitive.”

Timberwolves Owner Has Understanding With Jimmy Butler

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said he has reached an understanding with Jimmy Butler, telling the four-time All-Star that the franchise will continue to try and trade him, Sid Hartman of the StarTribune, passes along. According to Taylor, Butler has agreed to play to his full ability while the team finds a suitor. The agreement was first reported over the weekend, though Taylor had not spoken publicly since the report.

“The latest is he is going to be going to practice every day, which he has been, and plans to play in games,” said Taylor tells Hartman. “He will be a regular team player. What I said to him in the meantime is our GM, Scott Layden, will be talking to other teams to see if there is a trade that works.”

Taylor added that there is no question Butler will give 100 percent on the court. “[Butler] said that is the only way he knows how to do it,” Taylor said.

The owner added that as far as he can tell, there’s no chance Butler remains on the team past this season. “That is not part of the plan, but as you know, things can change,” Taylor said. “But that is not what we have agreed to.”

“…I think [Butler has] made it very clear that he would not re-sign with us at the end of the year and therefore it is in our interest to get a trade so that we can get a player or two to replace him that helps our team.”

Taylor hinted that economics are playing a role in the situation. “We would have to make some changes on our team in order to keep Jimmy,” Taylor said. Minnesota has already given huge deals to Karl-Anthony Towns (five years, up to $190MM) and Andrew Wiggins (five years, $147MM). Butler could command a five-year deal worth $190MM from the Timberwolves should he re-sign with the team in 2019, and reportedly wanted the club to renegotiate his contract this past summer.

Jimmy Butler Rumors: Taylor, Thibodeau, Mavs

As ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported earlier today, there has been some confusion among potential Jimmy Butler suitors who have spoken to the Timberwolves, since it’s not clear if Minnesota’s ownership and management groups are on the same page when it comes to a Butler trade. Over at The Athletic, Jon Krawczynski’s latest report on the Butler situation touches many of the same bases that Wojnarowski’s did, with a few new details included.

After Tom Thibodeau met with Butler in the hopes of convincing him to report to the Timberwolves, Butler sought out owner Glen Taylor to receive assurances that the club was actually making “good faith efforts” to trade him, sources tell Krawczynski.

According to Krawczynski’s report, Butler’s camp has conveyed his dissatisfaction with the situation in Minnesota throughout the offseason — his representatives talked to Thibodeau in July about the 29-year-old’s unwillingness to re-sign long-term with the franchise, and Butler conveyed that same message to the head coach in August when Thibodeau visited him in California. However, there’s no indication that Butler requested a trade until last week.

Here are a few more of the latest items on Butler:

  • Asked again today about Butler, Thibodeau sounded more open than ever to the idea of moving on from his All-NBA swingman. “We’re going to honor his request,” Thibodeau said, per Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News (video link). “But we’re not going to do a bad deal. … We’re trying to make the best deal for the Timberwolves. … That’s what my job is. That’s what [GM] Scott [Layden]‘s job is. Obviously, a move of this magnitude, Glen’s involved in it too.”
  • Despite Thibodeau saying the right things about Butler publicly, Chris Hine of The Star Tribune hears from a source that the Timberwolves‘ head coach and president of basketball operations remains reluctant to make a deal.
  • It’s probably safe to cross the Mavericks off the list of possible suitors for Butler, according to Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News, who hears from a high-ranking Mavs official that “he’s not coming here.”
  • Thibodeau took a risk on Butler and got burned, writes Chip Scoggins of The Star Tribune, noting that the “clock is ticking” on Thibs to prove that he can make Plan B work for the Timberwolves.

Thibodeau Tries To Convince Butler To Report

Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau met with Jimmy Butler on Monday, attempting to coax the disenchanted swingman to rejoin the team during the preseason, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets.

It’s another hint that Thibodeau hopes to patch things up with Butler and keep his core group intact rather than trade him. Butler did not report to training camp as he awaits a trade.

Thibodeau indicated during the team’s media day on Monday that he’s willing to deal Butler, who can become a free agent next summer, but he’s not going to give away an All-Star talent.

“We’re not going to make a bad deal,” Thibodeau said. “If it’s a good deal, we’re interested.”

Teams have been lining up with offers for Butler and the process was accelerated when news broke that owner Glen Taylor wants to move Butler as soon as possible.

Wolves Owner Wants Jimmy Butler Deal Done Soon

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has taken control of the Jimmy Butler trade talks and wants to get a deal completed as soon as possible, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

Tom Thibodeau, who serves as president of basketball operations as well as coach, had been objecting to a deal, hoping to hold onto the veteran forward for another season. However, Taylor wants the process to end before training camp starts Tuesday and has mandated that a deal get done quickly.

Wojnarowski cautions that no team has entered serious discussion with the Wolves yet, but he identifies the Nets, Pistons, Rockets, Clippers, Heat, Sixers and Trail Blazers as franchises that have shown interest.

Taylor plans to review the offers over the next two days, then present the best ones to Butler and his agent, Bernie Lee, to see which teams Butler would be willing to sign a five-year extension with. That information will be used to help finalize a deal, although Wojnarowski adds that some teams would be willing to trade for Butler with no guarantee of an extension .

GM Scott Layden may have jeopardized his job by refusing to talk to other teams about a Butler deal, according to Wojnarowski. Taylor has demanded that Layden start aggressively pursuing a trade, even to the point of contacting rival GMs. Taylor has been considering changes in the front office for months and may re-evaluate Layden’s role once the Butler deal is done.

Timberwolves Owner: Jimmy Butler Is Available

Defying his front office executives, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is telling other owners and GMs at the NBA’s Board of Governors meetings that Jimmy Butler is available and they can make trade inquiries directly to him, if necessary, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

Taylor’s willingness to deal the disgruntled swingman, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, flies in the face of an earlier report by Wojnarowski on Friday that the Timberwolves were rebuffing calls on Butler’s availability.

This leads to speculation that a showdown is looming between Taylor and Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations and head coach, Wojnarowski notes. GM Scott Layden reports to Thidobeau and is the usual point person on trade talks.

Thibodeau has no desire to deal Butler in any scenario that would set back the team’s chances of making the playoffs again and advancing deeper into the postseason.

In contrast, it appears that Taylor’s mind is made up that Butler must go.

“The owner’s trading him,” a Board of Governors attendee told Wojnarowski. “That was made clear. It’s just a matter of when.”

There is a good possibility that Butler will not report to camp when it opens next week, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Krawczynski details how the Butler-Thibodeau relationship deteriorated over the past year.

Thibodeau is willing to let any drama between Butler and the team’s other two stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, play out in training camp and into the regular season. Taylor, on the other hand, does not want to go through a potentially dysfunctional season and see the franchise’s image tarnished, Wojnarowski continues. The franchise’s business operations have successful marketed the team’s stars and don’t want that campaign completely ruined, Wojnarowski adds.

Taylor has gotten involved in trading high-profile players in the past, including Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love.

Jimmy Butler Rumors: Dieng, Clippers, Bucks, More

The early trade market for Jimmy Butler is “confused and cool” as teams contemplate the risk of trading for the All-Star wing, according to Zach Lowe, who takes a deep dive into the Butler situation his his latest piece for ESPN.com. The 29-year-old’s reported desire for a five-year contract that could be worth in the neighborhood of $190MM may make some potential suitors back off, though those teams could also be posturing in the early going, Lowe notes.

One of the most interesting tidbits that Lowe passes along in his article is on the Timberwolves‘ desire to include Gorgui Dieng in a deal if they decide to move Butler. Lowe is skeptical that any prospective trade partners will be eager to take on Dieng, who still has three years and over $48MM left on his contract.

Here’s more from Lowe and others on Butler and the Wolves:

  • It would be “shocking” if the Clippers were willing to offer rookie guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in any package for Butler, sources tell Lowe. In fact, there has been no indication that the Clips haven’t acted aggressively – or much at all – on Butler so far.
  • The Bucks placed a courtesy call to the Timberwolves asking to be kept in the loop if the team gets serious about moving Butler. Still, Lowe doesn’t view Milwaukee as a fit, observing that Khris Middleton would probably have to be included. The Bucks would likely have a better chance next summer to re-sign Middleton than Butler.
  • After reporting earlier today that the Timberwolves are telling teams Butler’s not available, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has updated his story to suggest that opposing clubs believe the “fastest avenue” to negotiating a trade is to engage owner Glen Taylor, rather than Tom Thibodeau. Thibodeau is less inclined to part with Butler, but Taylor has stepped in on this sort of matter in the past, overseeing trades involving Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love.
  • In the wake of Butler’s trade request, initial reports suggested his desire to leave Minnesota was motivated more by “contractual matters” than any discord with Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins. A source in Butler’s camp who spoke to Joe Cowley of The Chicago Sun-Times disputes that notion, suggesting it was “manufactured” by “ownership mouthpieces” to make Butler look bad. “According to the source, this is about a philosophy in making an impact in the Western Conference,” Cowley writes. “In Butler’s mind you can’t run down a dynasty like Golden State when two of the so-called dogs in the pack are in fact kittens.” Presumably, that’s a reference to Towns and Wiggins.