Jimmy Butler

Woj’s Latest: McConnell, Clippers, Kawhi, Butler

The Sixers have discussed a possible contract extension for T.J. McConnell, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said during the latest edition of The Woj Pod. Despite some “conversations” about a new deal, Wojnarowski doesn’t suggest that those talks have gotten serious, and Zach Lowe adds that he doesn’t expect Philadelphia to extend McConnell early, since the team wants to maximize its cap room for next summer.

Still, it will be interesting to see what happens with McConnell, who would be eligible for up to four years and about $47.5MM on an in-season extension. Wojnarowski indicates that the Sixers‘ backup point guard is “in demand” on the trade market, but has always been a favorite of head coach Brett Brown. As long as Markelle Fultz remains a question mark, McConnell is an important part of the club’s rotation.

[RELATED: Sixers turned down Suns’ trade offer for T.J. McConnell]

Wojnarowski and Lowe relayed a few more noteworthy tidbits on their latest podcast, so let’s round up the highlights….

  • Wojnarowski believes that the Clippers’ chance of landing Kawhi Leonard in 2019 are “better than not.” However, while he thinks L.A. is in a great position for Leonard, he cautions that anything can happen between now and next July.
  • Wojnarowski also expects the Clippers to “be heard from again” in the Jimmy Butler sweepstakes, though the ESPN scribe expects many other potential trade partners to re-engage the Timberwolves once Minnesota gets “more realistic” about its asking price.
  • Elsewhere on the Butler front, Wojnarowski notes that the All-NBA swingman has made it clear that the Lakers are “not really a consideration” for him. Conversely, the Lakers think they can do better than Butler with their potential max-salary slot, Woj adds.
  • Both Wojnarowski and Lowe raved about Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra, with Woj suggesting that Spoelstra could command $10MM annually as a “free agent” coach. An executive from a rival team asked Lowe last season if he thought the Heat would be willing to part with Spoelstra for a first-round pick — both Woj and Lowe agree that they wouldn’t.

Jimmy Butler Trade Talks ‘Mostly Dormant’ For Now

With the 2018/19 season officially underway, the Jimmy Butler trade talks that were so active in the weeks leading up to opening night are “mostly dormant” for the time being, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Heat were the most aggressive suitor for Butler during the preseason, having nearly reached a deal with the Timberwolves that would have sent Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected first-round pick to Minnesota for the All-NBA swingman. However, according to Charania, Heat president Pat Riley informed his players a few days before the regular season began that the club planned to stick with its current roster for now.

While the Timberwolves aren’t close to any deals involving Butler at the moment, trade discussions figure to pick back up at some point. Team owner Glen Taylor confirmed earlier this week that he and the 29-year-old reached an understanding — Butler will play hard for the Wolves while the team continues to seek out a trade package for him.

If and when those trade talks resume, Miami still looks like a prime landing spot. Marc Stein of The New York Times also noted earlier this week that “rumbles persist” about the Rockets maintaining serious interest in trading for Butler, despite the Wolves’ aversion to helping Houston build another super-team in the Western Conference.

Although Butler isn’t necessarily happy to still be in Minnesota, he has been making an effort to display leadership and help out his teammates by easing the pressure from head coach Tom Thibodeau, according to Charania.

“Just hoop, I told them, and I think that I can get Thibs to relax a little bit,” Butler said. “He’s never going to say anything about offense as long as you go down there and play with effort on the defensive end and get a couple stops. It’s whenever you’re not getting stops when he starts yelling. I think Thibs has calmed down a lot, and guys are playing with effort.”

Wolves Notes: Butler, Thibodeau, Towns, Wiggins

Timberwolves coach/executive Tom Thibodeau raised the asking price for Jimmy Butler in trade talks after last week’s infamous practice incident, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski said on today’s edition of “The Jump.” The ESPN scribe adds that Thibodeau feels like he came away victorious in his struggle with owner Glen Taylor because Butler remains on the team and will play in tonight’s opener.

“This is exactly what Tom Thibodeau wanted, which was him in the lineup on opening night,” Wojnarowski said. “The day that Jimmy came back and practiced, Thibs won. He waited out his owner, he waited out Jimmy, got him back on the court.”

He adds that Minnesota still hasn’t gotten serious about trading Butler and continues to ask for returns that it knows teams won’t agree to. Woj doesn’t expect the situation to change until closer to the trade deadline in February, when he says some teams that have been involved in trade talks will “circle back” to see if the Wolves have become more realistic.

There’s more today out of Minnesota:

  • Thibodeau isn’t concerned about team chemistry despite the surreal preseason and lingering rumors from last year of locker room disharmony, relays Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Thibodeau contends the bond that players have is reflected by their performance on the court. “That’s how you measure chemistry. When guys are playing together, how do they play with each other? Do they play effectively?” he said. “That’s what was so encouraging to me about what we did last year. The starters were a very dynamic group. To be third in offense and seventh in defense and the record we had when everyone was healthy (37-22) was terrific. And we want to build off of that.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns has the talent to be considered the second-best player in franchise history after Kevin Garnett, but he may not reach his potential until Butler is gone, suggests Jim Souhan of The Star-Tribune. Towns has been targeted frequently by Butler because of a passive attitude, and Souhan believes the best outcome is a trade that leaves Towns as the team’s unquestioned on-court leader.
  • A Star-Tribune panel debates whether Andrew Wiggins can blossom into the player the Wolves hoped when they gave him a five-year, $148MM extension. That new deal kicks in this year, and there are concerns that he might never be more than an inefficient scorer.

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.

Lowe’s Latest: Kings, Butler, Sixers, Lee, Klay

In his final piece previewing the 2018/19 NBA campaign, ESPN’s Zach Lowe offers up a few dozen bold predictions for the coming season. He also relays several tidbits of note on trade candidates and 2019 free-agents-to-be within those predictions, so we’re going to dive in and round up some of the highlights…

  • Lowe is skeptical that the Kings will be able to use their $11MM in remaining cap room to land a first-round pick, since he hears from sources that the team is wary about taking on multiple years of bad money.
  • Although teams like the Heat, Nets, and Clippers have been cited as Jimmy Butler‘s preferred destinations, the Timberwolves wing also “has eyes” for the Sixers, per Lowe. However, sources tell ESPN that Philadelphia has shown “almost no interest” in trading for Butler.
  • The Knicks are still trying to trade Courtney Lee, sources tell Lowe. While it’s not clear if they’ve made progress in any trade talks, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer notes that Lee has generated interest, adding that the Hornets discussed a trade for the veteran swingman at last season’s deadline.
  • Klay Thompson – who will be a free agent in 2019 – has no plans to accept a discount on his next contract, and the Warriors don’t expect him to, reports Lowe. Still, O’Connor says that sources he has spoken to would be “shocked” if Thompson left Golden State.
  • It’s a moot point now, but if LeBron James had committed to staying with the Cavaliers this summer, Cleveland would have sent the No. 8 pick in the draft to the Hornets as part of a trade package for Kemba Walker, according to Lowe.

Jimmy Butler Expected To Play In Wolves’ Season Opener

7:58 pmJon Krawczynski of The Athletic has reported that Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor made a rare visit to a team practice and actually met with Butler to discuss the current situation. Krawczynski reveals that Taylor and Butler came to an agreement during the meeting, with Butler agreeing to play in games at his usual competitiveness level while the team continues to work on finding a trade for the disgruntled star.

As noted below, talks between the Heat and Timberwolves over a potential Butler deal are reportedly dead at the moment, making it very likely that Butler will be suiting up for the Timberwolves for the foreseeable future.

1:08 pm: Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler is expected to play in the team’s season opener against the Spurs on Wednesday, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). Butler practiced with the team Sunday for the first time since he erupted during a scrimmage last week.

Charania also adds that the trade talks between the Heat and Timberwolves are dead for now, not ruling out the possibility of them restarting in the future. The teams were close to finalizing a deal centered around Butler and others one week ago, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported, but the deal fractured just before completion.

Butler planned to practice with the team again this past Thursday, but Minnesota canceled the session in the morning. He has no desire to forfeit guaranteed money from games, and his immediate future with the team remains unclear.

The Timberwolves’ schedule after Wednesday includes a home game against Cleveland on Friday, followed by a road contest against Dallas on Saturday. Butler knows the possibility of getting booed at home exists amid the trade request that’s spanned over three weeks.

“Sure. Go ahead, boo me,” Butler told The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski (Twitter link). “It ain’t going to change the way I play. That’s going to make me smile more. So please, come on with it.”

Butler’s original trade request came with three preferred teams, according to an ESPN.com report: Brooklyn, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets and Knicks have had no traction with Minnesota to this point, and the Clippers believe they can convince Butler to sign with the club in free agency next summer.

Butler reportedly adjusted his list three weeks ago and named the Heat as his new top destination, as The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported. So far, the Heat have been unwilling to throw away each of their future pieces for a talent that can leave the team in nine months as a free agent.

Butler, 29, remains an accomplished two-way forward and consensus top-15 player in the NBA. His competitive spirit, fearless attitude and hard-pressed mindset intrigues teams looking for a star talent on the wing.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Wolves Rumors: Noah, Butler, Jones, Towns

The Knicks’ long-awaited roster move involving Joakim Noah finally happened on Saturday, resulting in a flurry of speculation about the Timberwolves‘ interest in the veteran center. However, league sources tell Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link) that Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau has shown no interest in adding Noah to his roster.

Thibodeau hasn’t hesitated to stack his Minnesota squad with several of his former Bulls players, including Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, and Luol Deng, and reports earlier in the offseason indicated that he might be interest in Noah as well. Apparently that’s not the case though. For now, Thibodeau has his hands full with another one of those ex-Bulls, as he attempts to determine what to do with Butler.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Asked on Friday for the first time about Butler’s now-infamous performance in practice on Wednesday, Thibodeau downplayed its importance, according to Chris Hine of The Star Tribune. “It’s not uncommon when players scrimmage that there will be some talk,” Thibodeau said. “It was competitive.”
  • Thibodeau also offered this assessment on confrontations during practices and scrimmages, per Hine: “It’s OK to confront. That’s not an issue. The way you confront that’s important. But if you do confront, don’t beat down. The big thing is to lift people up. You make other people better.”
  • We haven’t heard much else on the Butler front since reports indicated he was likely to start the season with the Wolves and that the Heat weren’t making an effort to re-engage the Wolves in trade talks.
  • There have still been no rookie scale extension discussions between Tyus Jones and the Timberwolves, Jones confirmed on Friday (link via Hine). “I’d like to be here, but I know it’s a business,” said Jones, who will be eligible for restricted free agency in 2019 if he doesn’t get an extension. The deadline is Monday.
  • Karl-Anthony Towns expressed plenty of frustration following another bad preseason loss on Friday, calling the team’s recent showings “unacceptable.” Chris Herring of ESPN.com has the details and the quotes from Towns.
  • Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN confirms (via Twitter) that Canyon Barry and William Lee received Exhibit 10 deals today and are expected to join the Iowa Wolves, Minnesota’s G League affiliate, after they’re waived.

Heat Rumors: Butler, Trade Talks, 15-Man Roster

Reports earlier this week on the Jimmy Butler situation suggested that the Timberwolves nearly accepted a Heat offer that included Josh Richardson and a first-round pick, but ultimately asked Miami for more. A subsequent report indicated that Wolves owner Glen Taylor wasn’t responsible for turning down that offer.

During an appearance on Mason and Ireland, ESPN’s Jorge Sedano confirmed both stories, reporting that the Heat and Timberwolves got close to a trade that would have sent Butler to Miami for Richardson, a first-round pick, and Dion Waiters. The two teams even exchanged medical information for the players involved. However, according to Sedano, Tom Thibodeau asked the Heat for more draft picks, at which point Pat Riley called him a “motherf—er” and hung up on him (Twitter links).

For what it’s worth, a source familiar with the negotiations disputes that story, telling Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel that Riley insists he didn’t offer such a reaction. That source apparently didn’t deny the other details of those trade discussions though.

Here’s more on the Heat, including another note on their dealings with the Timberwolves:

  • Both Winderman and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald report that the Heat aren’t pushing to re-engage the Timberwolves in trade discussions involving Butler. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that a deal won’t happen, Miami sounds ready to move on and prepare for the season. Butler didn’t travel with the Wolves to Milwaukee, with Thibodeau telling reporters that the All-NBA swingman is in Minnesota working on his conditioning, adding that the situation remains “fluid” (Twitter link via Dane Moore of 1500ESPN).
  • The Heat typically carry a full 15-man roster into the regular season, but the team appears likely to open the 2018/19 campaign with just 14 players, as Winderman writes in another piece for The Sun Sentinel. According to Winderman, the Heat haven’t entered the season with fewer than 15 players on standard contracts since 2003/04. Luxury tax concerns likely play a major part in that decision this year — Miami is currently over the tax line by about $6.3MM.
  • In a Q&A with Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated, Chris Bosh explained that he still hopes to return to the NBA because he views his career as an “unfinished painting.” Bosh pointed specifically to his final season with the Heat, noting that he thought the team had the potential to win the East, but he didn’t get a chance to see it through.

Signs Pointing Toward Jimmy Butler Starting Season With Wolves

2:47pm: Timberwolves players can’t seem to agree on what exactly happened today. While Butler confirmed to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (Twitter link) that he held a players-only meeting, Jeff Teague responded to Charania’s initial report by calling it “fake news” and accusing him of making up the meeting (Twitter link).

1:55pm: Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting on Thursday and aired his feelings about his situation and about team management, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). League sources tell Charania that Butler told his teammates that he’s prepared to compete with them, with Charania adding that signs are pointing toward the All-NBA swingman opening the 2018/19 season as a member of the Timberwolves.

As Charania relays (via Twitter), a number of players spoke up during the players-only meeting today, but Butler was the one leading it. The 29-year-old is too competitive to sit out real games, according to Charania, who adds that Butler’s message was similar to the one he conveyed on Wednesday: “I run this.”

Besides being too competitive to miss regular season games, Butler also has little incentive to do so from a contract and salary perspective. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement heavily penalizes players who hold out, and could even have prevented Butler from being able to reach free agency in 2019 if he missed enough games, so that was never really a viable option.

The Timberwolves’ players-only meeting comes on the heels of Wednesday’s alreadyinfamous practice in which Butler reportedly teamed up with a handful of third-stringers to defeat Minnesota’s starters, yelling at head coach Tom Thibodeau, GM Scott Layden, and multiple teammates – including Karl-Anthony Towns – throughout the scrimmage. The Wolves cancelled Thursday’s practice.

Butler has made it clear that he has no intention of re-signing with the Timberwolves when he becomes eligible for free agency next July, so even if he does remain on Minnesota’s roster to start the season, the team will likely keep exploring potential trades. The Heat, Rockets, and Clippers are among the teams that have shown the most interest in the four-time All-Star, with Miami and Houston especially motivated to make a deal since they won’t have the cap room necessary to sign Butler outright in 2019.