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.”
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.
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 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.
The 2018/19 NBA regular season gets underway tonight, which means it’s time to get serious about predictions for the upcoming campaign. With the help of the lines from Bovada and the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, we’re running through the predicted win totals for each of the NBA’s 30 teams, by division, to have you weigh in on whether you think those forecasts are too optimistic or too pessimistic.
Having already looked at the other five divisions, we’re moving onto the Northwest today…
- 2017/18 record: 48-34
- Over/under for 2018/19: 50.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Jazz poll)
Oklahoma City Thunder
- 2017/18 record: 48-34
- Over/under for 2018/19: 48.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Thunder poll)
- 2017/18 record: 46-36
- Over/under for 2018/19: 48.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Nuggets poll)
Portland Trail Blazers
- 2017/18 record: 49-33
- Over/under for 2018/19: 42.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Trail Blazers poll)
- 2017/18 record: 47-35
- Over/under for 2018/19: 41.5 wins
- Major offseason moves:
(Trade Rumors app users, click here for Timberwolves poll)
Previous voting results:
- Boston Celtics (59.5 wins): Over (53.63%)
- Toronto Raptors (55.5 wins): Over (56.95%)
- Philadelphia 76ers (54.5 wins): Under (51.19%)
- Brooklyn Nets (31.5 wins): Under (56.04%)
- New York Knicks (28.5 wins): Under (54.13%)
- Houston Rockets (56.5 wins): Over (69.33%)
- New Orleans Pelicans (45.5 wins): Under (53.4%)
- San Antonio Spurs (44.5 wins): Under (60%)
- Dallas Mavericks (34.5 wins): Over (55.16%)
- Memphis Grizzlies (34.5 wins): Under (60.87%)
- Indiana Pacers (47.5 wins): Over (62.04%)
- Milwaukee Bucks (47.5 wins): Over (73.7%)
- Detroit Pistons (38.5 wins): Over (56.36%)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (30.5 wins): Over (55.42%)
- Chicago Bulls (29.5 wins): Over (61.8%)
- Golden State Warriors (62.5 wins): Over (53.45%)
- Los Angeles Lakers (48.5 wins): Over (55.2%)
- Los Angeles Clippers (36.5 wins): Under (55.7%)
- Phoenix Suns (29.5 wins): Under (53.4%)
- Sacramento Kings (25.5 wins): Under (63.87%)
- Washington Wizards (45.5 wins): Over (56.28%)
- Miami Heat (43.5 wins): Under (57.42%)
- Charlotte Hornets (35.5 wins): Over (56.73%)
- Orlando Magic (30.5 wins): Under (68.41%)
- Atlanta Hawks (23.5 wins): Under (58.38%
- The Timberwolves and point guard Tyus Jones did not reach a rookie scale extension agreement. Jones will be a restricted free agent, and that’s been the expectation all along, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic tweets. Minnesota would have to make a $3,573,205 qualifying offer before free agency next summer, otherwise Jones would be unrestricted. Jones saw action in all 82 regular-season games last season, including 11 starts, and averaged 5.1 PPG and 2.8 APG in 17.9 MPG.
- The Bulls and forward Bobby Portis couldn’t come to an extension agreement before Monday’s deadline, Wojnarowski tweets. Agent Mark Bartelstein and Chicago GM Gar Forman had lengthy negotiations as the deadline approached, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune tweets, but couldn’t close the financial gap. “We had very positive talks,” Bartelstein told Johnson. “These are hard extensions to get done.” (Twitter link). Portis will be a restricted free agent if Chicago gives him a $3,611,813 qualifying offer. He averaged 13.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG in 73 regular season games after returning from his eight-game team suspension following his well-publicized dust-up with former teammate Nikola Mirotic.
- Nets guard D’Angelo Russell and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did not receive extensions, Michael Scotto of The Athetic tweets. Neither player was aware of Monday’s deadline, according to Scotto, suggesting that the Nets never made a serious pitch to lock them up before free agency. The Nets would have extend a $9,160,706 qualifying offer to Russell to make him a restricted free agent. Hollis-Jefferson’s qualifying offer would be $3,594,369.
7:58 pm: Jon 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.
The Timberwolves have parted ways with four players, the team announced on Twitter. Gone are Darius Johnson-Odom and Jonathan Stark, along with Canyon Barry and William Lee, who were both signed earlier today.
The moves trim Minnesota’s roster to 16, including a pair of two-way players. The Wolves may keep one spot open on the regular roster for luxury tax purposes.
Johnson-Odom is 29 but hasn’t played in the NBA since 2013/14, when he spent three games with the Sixers. He has extensive international experience, playing in Italy, Turkey and Greece.
Stark is a rookie from Murray State who was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year last season. After going undrafted, he played for Minnesota in the Las Vegas Summer League. Barry played in Finland and the Czech Republic after going undrafted out of Florida in 2017. Lee is a rookie out of Alabama-Birmingham.
All four players may be given opportunities to join the Wolves’ G League team if they clear waivers.