Jimmy Butler

Wolves Rumors: Butler, Wiggins, Jones, Dieng

Jimmy Butler will have the opportunity to opt out and sign a new contract with the Timberwolves a year from now, but Sean Deveney of The Sporting News hears from sources familiar with the situation that Butler is uncertain about playing alongside Andrew Wiggins in the long term. According to Deveney, Butler had issues last season related to Wiggins’ work ethic and defensive approach.

As Deveney details, head coach Tom Thibodeau has had similar gripes with Wiggins in the past, and had hoped that bringing in a “tough-minded” veteran like Butler would motivate the former No. 1 pick to improve. However, it didn’t seem to help much.

While the Wolves figure to explore the trade market for Wiggins this summer, it will be hard to find a viable deal with his five-year, maximum-salary contract set to take effect, Deveney notes.

Here’s more from Deveney on the Wolves:

  • Thibodeau’s use of his bench continues to be a source of friction in Minnesota, with Tyus Jones among the backups adversely affected. A source tells Deveney that Jeff Teague suggested to Thibodeau last season that Jones should play more.
  • According to Deveney, Jones considered requesting a trade out of Minnesota, but Thibodeau “reasserted his support” of the young guard following the season, assuring Jones that his role will increase next season even if Derrick Rose is re-signed, due to the presumed departure of Jamal Crawford.
  • While the Wolves don’t appear likely to move Jones, they’ll look to deal highly-priced backup Gorgui Dieng, per Deveney.
  • I touched on several of these topics earlier this week in my preview of the Timberwolves’ offseason.

Wolves Notes: Butler, Towns, Thibodeau, Wiggins

Last summer’s Jimmy Butler trade was a good move for the Timberwolves even though they parted with several promising young talents, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Minnesota swung a draft night blockbuster with the Bulls, giving up Kris DunnZach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen for Butler and Justin Patton.

The deal paid dividends for the Wolves, who reached the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, and Robson contends that Butler has already become the second-best player in franchise history, trailing only Kevin Garnett.

On the down side, Butler missed 23 games because of injuries and was a steadfast defender of coach Tom Thibodeau, creating a rift with some of his young teammates. Robson advises the front office to delay renegotiating Butler’s contract, which pays him nearly $20.5MM next season with a $19.8MM player option for 2019/20, to see how the situation plays out.

Robson passes along more info from Minnesota in his mailbag column:

  • Rumors that Thibodeau could get fired this summer are premature, although the locker room has become increasingly divided between loyalists who previously played for Thibodeau in Chicago and younger players who are turned off by his abrasive style. However, replacing Thibodeau now would anger Butler and Taj Gibson and leave the team at a disadvantage heading into the draft and free agency. Robson believes Thibodeau, who still has three years left on his contract, could be in danger if the Wolves don’t move up the Western Conference ladder next season.
  • It will be surprising if Karl-Anthony Towns is put on the trade market this summer, even if the rumors about his unhappiness in Minnesota are true. Towns is just 22 and is under team control for at least two more seasons. A suggested deal for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t work for the Wolves because there’s no good way to replace Towns in the middle. Towns reportedly wants a bigger role in the offense and less “tough love” from Thibodeau and Butler.
  • Minnesota probably should have passed on an extension for Andrew Wiggins last summer and dealt with him as a restricted free agent. Robson suggests Thibodeau may have been forced into the move by owner Glen Taylor, but adds that a trade is unlikely now because it would be difficult for the Wolves to get equal value in return.
  • The team would almost certainly have to surrender a first-round pick to unload the contract of Gorgui Dieng, who is owed more than $48MM over the next three years. Thibodeau lost confidence in Dieng during the season and his playing time was cut nearly in half.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-NBA Teams

The NBA has formally announced the All-NBA First, Second, and Third Teams for the 2017/18 season, with James Harden and LeBron James leading the way as the two unanimous selections for the First Team.

The voting results will have major financial implications for the three All-NBA centers, Anthony Davis, Joel Embiid, and Karl-Anthony Towns. As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), Davis is now eligible for a supermax extension from the Pelicans next summer. Davis will be eligible to sign that deal, which projects to be worth $230MM, as of July 1, 2019.

As for Embiid, missing out on a First Team nod means his maximum-salary contract will remain at 25% of the cap rather than being bumped up to 30%. That means he’ll miss out on approximately $29MM over the next five years, as Dan Feldman of NBC Sports details.

Towns, meanwhile, will be eligible for an extension worth 30% of the cap this summer, Marks tweets. An extension of that sort, which would make the cap outlook in Minnesota very interesting, would go into effect for the 2019/20 season.

The full All-NBA teams are listed below, with their vote totals in parentheses. Players received five points for a First Team vote, three points for a Second Team vote, and one point for a Third Team vote, so Harden and James scored a perfect 500 — First Team nods from all 100 voters.

First Team

  • Guard: James Harden, Rockets (500)
  • Guard: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers (432)
  • Forward: LeBron James, Cavaliers (500)
  • Forward: Kevin Durant, Warriors (426)
  • Center: Anthony Davis, Pelicans (492)

Second Team

Third Team

Among those results, the tightest race saw DeRozan edge Curry by a single point for a spot on the All-NBA Second Team. Both players received two First Team votes and 39 Second Team votes, with DeRozan grabbing one extra Third Team vote (38 to 37) to bump him up to the Second Team ahead of Curry.

As for the players who didn’t quite make the cut, Rockets point guard Chris Paul (54 points), Jazz center Rudy Gobert (51), Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (42), and Sixers guard/forward Ben Simmons (36) received the most support.

Al Horford (Celtics), Nikola Jokic (Nuggets), Andre Drummond (Pistons), Clint Capela (Rockets), Draymond Green (Warriors), Kyle Lowry (Raptors), Steven Adams (Thunder), Donovan Mitchell (Jazz), Klay Thompson (Warriors), Trevor Ariza (Rockets), DeMarcus Cousins (Pelicans), Dwight Howard (Hornets), Kevin Love (Cavaliers), and Kristaps Porzingis (Knicks) also each received at least one All-NBA vote.

NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Defensive Teams

The NBA has officially announced its 2017/18 All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with Defensive Player of the Year candidates Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis headlining the First Team.

Gobert led the way in voting, receiving 94 of 100 potential First Team votes. He also received four Second Team votes, and was left off of just two ballots, earning him 192 total points (two points per First Team vote; one point per Second Team vote). It’s his second All-Defensive First Team nod.

[RELATED: NBA Announces 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams]

As Bobby Marks of ESPN notes (via Twitter), the All-Defensive recognition will pay off financially for Gobert, who earns a $500K bonus as a result of his spot on the First Team. Meanwhile, Pelicans guard Jrue Holiday will receive a more modest $100K bonus for being named to the All-Defensive First Team.

Here are the full voting results for the All-Defensive First and Second Teams, with each player’s point total noted in parentheses:

First Team

  • Rudy Gobert, C, Jazz (192)
  • Anthony Davis, F/C, Pelicans (163)
  • Victor Oladipo, G, Pacers (136)
  • Jrue Holiday, G, Pelicans (105)
  • Robert Covington, F, Sixers (90)

Second Team

Rockets point guard Chris Paul (74 points) and Thunder forward Paul George (69) narrowly missed earning spots on the All-Defensive Second Team. A total of 29 other players received at least one vote, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson.

You can find the full voting results right here.

Wolves Notes: Rose, Jones, Wiggins, Crawford

The Timberwolves are very interested in re-signing free agent guard Derrick Rose, according to Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. Rose turned into a valuable reserve after coming to Minnesota following a late-season buyout. He played just nine regular season games for the Wolves, but became a force in the playoffs, averaging 14.2 points and making seven of 10 3-pointers in the series with the Rockets.

Rose also played well defensively and proved himself to be a good teammate, Krawczynski adds, two attributes he didn’t display during his time in Cleveland. Minnesota’s only concern in bringing Rose back is his injury history, as he was sidelined for a while with a sprained ankle after joining the Wolves. Rose has excelled under Tom Thibodeau and wants to be with a coach he trusts after five unsettled seasons.

Krawczynski offers more insight into the Timberwolves in a mailbag column:

  • A return by Rose would continue to limit the playing time for Tyus Jones, who saw his minutes decline after the Rose signing. Without roster changes, Jones would enter his fourth season as the third point guard on the depth chart.
  • The front office may consider an Andrew Wiggins trade if the Wolves can find a better fit in return. The team needs to quickly take steps to become a serious contender with Jimmy Butler entering his option year, Krawczynski states, and dealing Wiggins or Gorgui Dieng might be necessary to make that happen. Both players have large contracts that will make them difficult to unload. A max extension for Wiggins kicks in next season, and Dieng is owed nearly $48.7MM over the next three seasons. Wiggins’ trade value is low coming off an underwhelming fourth NBA season, and Krawczynski thinks the franchise may decide to hold onto him and hope he can develop into an All-Star.
  • One suggested deal would send Wiggins to the Raptors as part of a package for DeMar DeRozan, but there’s no evidence that Toronto is ready for a roster shakeup, even after firing coach Dwane Casey. A Butler-DeRozan combination would have many of the same issues as Butler and Wiggins, Krawczynski notes, including a lack of 3-point shooting.
  • Don’t count on veteran guard Jamal Crawford returning for another season, even though Butler would prefer to keep him. The 38-year-old complained this season about Thibodeau’s reluctance to use his bench, and things are unlikely to change as Crawford gets older.

Wolves Will Prioritize Adding Wings In Offseason

The Timberwolves will look to improve their depth on the wing this offseason, head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau told reporters today. As Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets, Thibodeau indicated that acquiring wing players who can shoot three-pointers and guard multiple positions is Minnesota’s top priority during the offseason.

Most of the Wolves’ top contributors – including Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford, and Nemanja Bjelica – shot a little from the outside in 2017/18, but no player on the roster made more than 1.5 threes per game. As a team, the Wolves made 8.0 three-pointers per contest, which ranked dead last in the NBA.

By comparison, Minnesota’s first-round opponent – the let-it-fly Rockets – led the league with 15.3 threes per game and had six players who knocked down at least two per game. So it’s no surprise that adding more three-point shooting on the wing will be a key focus for the Wolves this offseason.

Here’s more out of Minnesota:

  • Krawczynski and Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune (Twitter link) both interpreted Thibodeau’s comments today as good news for Derrick Rose‘s potential return to the team. Thibodeau called Rose – who is an unrestricted free agent this summer – a “terrific addition,” Zgoda notes.
  • Timberwolves GM Scott Layden suggested there will be a lot of activity around the draft, acknowledging that the club could explore trading its first-round pick, tweets Krawczynski. Zgoda expands on Layden’s comments, tweeting that the GM believes that first-rounder represents a chance to “get in the game” when it comes to making a trade offer for an impact player. However, Layden did say Minnesota would be happy to use the pick if there’s a player on the board who can “help us now.”
  • Layden expressed some regret that he wasn’t more active at the trade deadline, indicating he expects to be more aggressive this summer (Twitter link via Krawczynski).
  • Thibodeau anticipates Wiggins will have a good offseason entering the 2018/19 campaign, since he won’t have to deal with the distraction of working out a contract extension this time around, like he did a year ago (Twitter link via Krawczynski).
  • Butler was just dealing with general soreness in his right knee at the end of the season, and won’t require any additional procedures on that knee, Thibodeau said today (Twitter link via Zgoda).

Wolves Notes: Butler, Taylor, Offseason

With the Timberwolves‘ season over after their loss to the Rockets in the first round, the focus now turns to the roster and how the organization can build a long-term roster with its current assets. The first man on that agenda is Jimmy Butler, whom the team acquired as part of a draft-day trade last summer.

Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune writes that Butler’s future will be one of the most important Timberwolves storylines to watch this summer. Butler can opt out of his contract and hit the free agent market a year from now. So if the Timberwolves can’t reach an extension with Butler, it’s not out of the question that they’d test the trade market to see what kind of value they could get in lieu of him leaving as a free agent.

Butler seems unlikely to go anywhere, as owner Glen Taylor has indicated that the star forward is a crucial part of the team. Still, keeping him in Minnesota will require some financial maneuvering on the Wolves’ end. Andrew Wiggins‘ max extension is about to take effect, and Karl-Anthony Towns will soon be eligible for a considerable payday of his own.

Check out more notes surrounding the Wolves below:

  • In the same story, Taylor spoke about the Timberwolves making their first postseason since 2005. While the result was an early playoff exit, Taylor said that, at least, the team reached its goal of making the postseason.“I thought with the changes we made, the people we brought in, the sacrifices we made in moving some young, potential people, that we needed to be in the playoffs,” Taylor said. “Those were my expectations.”
  • Earlier in the week, we wrote about the possibility of Butler, who spent his first six seasons with the Bulls, ending up back in the Windy City if he hits free agency in 2019.
  • Chris Hine of the Star Tribune breaks down Minnesota’s offseason and what the team should be focused on as free agency and the draft approach.

Northwest Notes: Westbrook, George, Butler, Trail Blazers

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook will be available for tonight’s Game 5 after being fined but not suspended for going onto the court during an altercation, writes Erik Horne of The Oklahoman. The league levied a $10K fine against Westbrook, who became involved in a fourth quarter shoving match during Game 4. Players are typically suspended for leaving the bench area during a fight, but Westbrook was given a break because he was about to check into the game when it happened.

“I was at the scorer’s table waiting,” he said. “The foul went, the horn blew. So, I walked on the court. I was already in the game. Once I was in the game, they told me to wait because they told me I was going to review it or whatever. Once they did that, then obviously the altercation happened so I was already on the floor.”

There’s more from the Northwest Division:

  • Paul George‘s upcoming free agency becomes more interesting with every Thunder loss, notes Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated. George said earlier this season that he wouldn’t make a decision based on the playoffs, but obviously a first-round exit won’t help Oklahoma City’s chances of keeping him. Sharp acknowledges George’s talent, but questions whether he can be a team leader and speculates that things may not turn out well for the Lakers if they sign him but not LeBron James.
  • It’s conceivable that Jimmy Butler could wind up back in Chicago after next season, according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. The Timberwolves traded for Butler last summer to bring a veteran presence to the organization, but he can opt out of a $19.8MM salary next summer and may be tempted to leave if Minnesota can’t make an impact in the playoffs. Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf remains a huge fan of Butler and would be interested in a reunion. “I loved the city of Chicago, and I love the Reinsdorfs,’’ Butler said. “I’m forever grateful for them in taking a chance on me, allowing me to become the player that I am today. It’s still incredible to me that I got to hoop in a Bulls jersey. I got to play in the house that [Michael] Jordan built, that [Scottie] Pippen played, all that stuff. That’s because of the Reinsdorfs. If the time comes where I say, ‘You know what, I do want to end this thing in a Bulls jersey,’ I think that would be amazing. But it’s all about being wanted and winning.’’
  • The Trail Blazers posted all their exit interviews on the team website after a surprising first-round sweep by New Orleans.

Northwest Notes: Wolves, Jazz, Blazers, Barton

Speaking to WCCO 830’s Chad Hartman, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said his team can afford to pay Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler the max, despite already having a maximum-salary extension for Andrew Wiggins on the books. However, in order to fill out the rest of the roster with complementary pieces, the Wolves may have to convince some veteran free agents to accept below-market deals.

As Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune details, title contenders like the Warriors, Cavaliers, and Rockets can often convince vets looking for championships to sign minimum-salary deals. Taylor is hoping the Wolves will be able to make a similar pitch, pointing to a star like Butler and a coach like Tom Thibodeau as potentially instrumental recruiters. “That really helps when you have that clout within the league,” Taylor said.

Here’s more from around the Northwest division:

  • Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is happy to see assistant Igor Kokoskov receive consideration for the Suns‘ coaching job, per Eric Woodyard of The Deseret News. “I’ve told him for a number of years that I think he’s a head coach in the NBA,” Snyder said. “It’s taken him some time to see himself that way because he’s just been focused on doing his job.”
  • Trail Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey has pushed back against the idea that “sweeping changes” are needed in Portland after the team was swept out of the playoffs. John Canzano of The Oregonian makes a case for why those sort of “sweeping changes” may be necessary.
  • Frank Urbina of HoopsHype offers up four potential destinations for Will Barton in free agency. Barton has spent the last three and a half seasons with the Nuggets and has expressed interest in sticking with the team, but Urbina also views the Suns, Pacers, and Sixers as viable suitors for the veteran swingman.

Jimmy Butler Plans To Return Friday For Wolves

Timberwolves forward Jimmy Butler intends to return to action on Friday night against the Lakers, two people familiar with Butler’s decision tell Marc Stein of The New York Times. Butler, who has been sidelined since February 23 due to a torn meniscus, will undergo one final test during pregame warmups tonight, but plans on playing.

Butler was active for Thursday night’s game against Denver and was listed as available to play, but ultimately never saw any action. With that loss, the Timberwolves fell into a tie for eighth place in the West with Denver — both teams are 44-35. While Minnesota still holds the tiebreaker and the final playoff spot for now, the club has little room for error during the season’s final week.

After facing the Lakers in Los Angeles on Friday night, the Wolves will host the Grizzlies on Monday night, then host the Nuggets for Wednesday’s regular season finale, which could determine the No. 8 seed in the West. Minnesota has played sub-.500 ball since Butler went down, so getting him back would be huge for the club, assuming he’s healthy.

In 56 games for the Wolves this season, Butler has averaged 22.2 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG.