Timberwolves Owner Glen Taylor Talks Butler Trade

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is more hands-on than many of his fellow NBA team owners, which was on display throughout the team’s recent saga with Jimmy Butler.

Reports early in the process indicated that some teams were contacting Taylor directly to discuss potential trades for Butler, since Minnesota’s management team of Tom Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden seemed less inclined to make a move. When Butler was finally dealt over the weekend, a report suggested that the team owners on both sides were “heavily involved” in negotiations.

With that in mind, Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic and Chris Hine of The Star Tribune each spoke to Taylor about the deal the Wolves ultimately made, getting the owner’s thoughts on the package Minnesota received from the Sixers and the drama leading up to that trade agreement.

Here are a few of the highlights from Taylor, via Krawcznyski’s interview unless otherwise noted:

On Tom Thibodeau’s future with the Timberwolves:

“Like most coaches, he’ll be measured on the success of the team. Not one game, but what we can do overall, or just the improvement. If we can see improvement every day, that would be a very positive thing. Those are his expectations and that would be mine too. … Now it’s the (looking toward the) future. We’re looking forward. He’s supposed to be a coach with veteran knowledge. Hopefully he can bring that experience to this group of players and we win a lot more than we lose.”

On how Thibodeau’s close relationship with Butler affected the situation:

“It was hard for the coach to see an end to this relationship. I think he felt responsible that he should work hard to try to get Jimmy to change his mind, to stay with us, to meet the goals that we all agreed upon and that was to have a successful year this year and he would coach it, Jimmy would help in the leadership needs of the team and get us deep in the playoffs. I don’t fault the coach at all for having those desires and hopes.

“But of course as you saw, that strung out the timetable because a lot of effort on his part was put into trying to work with Jimmy. It’s probably from my viewpoint as being a step away from it, I felt that this was probably not going to work out.”

On how Butler handled the situation:

“I certainly wished that he would follow what I would call his behavior of being a leader on the team and doing positive things in the locker room, doing positive things out on the floor. I know in a number of cases he did do that, and I appreciate that. But my expectations of Jimmy were quite high. When we had these disruptions, rightly or wrongly, it appeared to have affected the team in a negative way.”

On whether Butler’s trade request was impacting the Wolves’ play (via Hine):

“It just appeared that they weren’t working together as a team or as a unit the way that they should’ve. I can’t exactly answer why. The only thing that was different that we had was Jimmy’s position of leaving the team. Maybe that was affecting guys more than they even knew themselves.”

On the trade package the Wolves received:

“I think in this case we were able to do two things that are very important. No. 1, we brought in some guys that could help us immediately, and I think that’s important. Secondly, we don’t have to look at it as just this year. I think because of their age and because of their contracts we can look at them as some fellows that can help us into the future. And that to me is very important.”

Five Key Stories: 11/4/18 – 11/10/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s biggest stories from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

The Sixers acquired Jimmy Butler in a blockbuster trade with the Timberwolves. In a ground-shaking move to make the Eastern Conference Finals this season and beyond, Philadelphia added another All-Star level talent to team up with the dynamic duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. The Sixers also acquired Justin Patton in the deal while giving up two starters — Robert Covington and Dario Saric — along with Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick. The Sixers now look like the Celtics’ biggest threat in the conference and put themselves in position to sign the impending free agent to a long-term contract. Meanwhile, Minnesota rids itself of the Butler drama and gets two solid players in return.

The Sixers lost rookie guard Zhaire Smith for the remainder of the season. Complications due to an allergic reaction have sidelined Smith indefinitely. He underwent surgery during the summer to repair a Jones fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot and was originally scheduled to return sometime next month. Smith suffered the allergic reaction while recovering from the surgery. Philadelphia first-round picks have been snakebit in recent years. Simmons and Embiid had their first season delayed by injuries and Markelle Fultz‘s rookie season was marred by a shoulder injury and shooting issues.

The Lakers signed veteran center Tyson Chandler after he reached a buyout with the Suns and cleared waivers. The Lakers were seeking a solid backup to JaVale McGee and added another veteran free agent in Chandler, whose playing time diminished with the Suns after they drafted Deandre Ayton. Chandler, 36, played 23 minutes and grabbed eight rebounds in his first game with his latest team.

The Cavaliers worked out a new contract with coach Larry DrewDrew wanted some security after replacing Tyronn Lue and the front office obliged. Drew will coach the team for the remainder of the season and will receive a buyout if the organization decides to go in another direction next season.

Lakers president Magic Johnson declared that he has no plans to fire head coach Luke WaltonAfter word leaked that Johnson had admonished his head coach over a variety of issues, the Hall of Famer made a point of saying he wasn’t looking to make a coaching change. Expectations have naturally risen since LeBron James decided to join the franchise and Walton will remain on shaky ground, regardless of Johnson’s vote of confidence, as long as the team struggles to develop into a playoff contender.

Here are 10 more notable NBA headlines from the last week:

Five Key Stories: 10/27/18 – 11/3/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s biggest stories from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

The Lakers’ disappointing start is turning up the heat on coach Luke Walton. Team president Magic Johnson “admonished” Walton for the team’s poor performance and delivered a message that improvement is necessary. The front office is counting on a trip to the playoffs after signing LeBron James and a group of veterans over the summer.

The Cavaliers’ Tyronn Lue became the first coach to be fired this season. He was dismissed for the team’s 0-6 start and a dispute with GM Koby Altman about who should be getting playing time. Larry Drew has taken over, but he describes himself as the “voice of the team,” rather than an interim coach as he tries to work out a more permanent arrangement.

Cleveland lost star forward Kevin Love for at least six weeks after surgery on his left foot. Love had missed four straight games with a toe injury before the decision was made to operate. Sam Dekker has taken over his starting spot.

The news wasn’t all bad this week in Cleveland, which learned it will be the host city for the 2022 All-Star Game. It will mark the first time the Cavs have hosted the game since 1997.

Jimmy Butler made headlines again when he opted to sit out Wednesday’s game because of “general soreness.” There was speculation that he might be planning an extended absence to force the Timberwolves’ hands on his trade request, but he was back in the lineup Friday in Golden State.

Here are 10 more notable headlines from last week:

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Timberwolves Notes: Butler, Jones, Rose

Appearing today on Darren Wolfson’s podcast The Scoop, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor didn’t guarantee that Jimmy Butler would be traded before February’s deadline, but said his best guess was that it would happen. In Taylor’s view, teams may not have put their best offers on the table yet, since they’re still trying to take advantage of Minnesota’s diminished leverage created by Butler’s strong desire to leave.

Taylor, who confirmed that GM Scott Layden is the point man on trade negotiations, with Tom Thibodeau focusing on coaching, said that about half the teams in the league have made inquiries on Butler. Asked by Wolfson if the Timberwolves are feeling pressure to pull the trigger on a deal soon, Taylor said that he knows his team won’t necessarily get a “perfect” deal, but added that he owes it to fans to get the best return possible, which means being patient.

Here’s more from out of Minnesota:

  • In a column for The Star Tribune, Jim Souhan argues that the Timberwolves should resolve the Butler situation sooner rather than later, writing that the saga has hurt the team’s culture and cost Thibodeau credibility in the locker room.
  • Before he went off for 50 points against the Jazz on Wednesday night, Derrick Rose spoke to Shams Charania of The Athletic about the opportunity he has been given in Minnesota to be a key contributor again without necessarily having to regain his old MVP form. Charania also explores the respect that stars around the NBA still have for Rose.
  • An MRI on Tyus Jones‘ injured right foot came back negative, with inflammation in the foot, sources tell Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link). Jones is considered day-to-day, having apparently avoided a more serious injury.

Knicks Notes: Fizdale, Knox, O’Quinn, Durant

David Fizdale enjoyed working as a television commentator and might have stayed in that role longer if not for the opportunity with the Knicks, writes Ian Begley of ESPN. Fizdale called TV work a  “comfortable” job without “the stress of coaching,” but he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try to build a winner in New York. He had interviews with several teams and turned down a four-year offer from the Suns to take the Knicks’ job.

Fizdale led the Grizzlies to the playoffs in his first year as a head coach, but injuries slowed the team last season and he was fired after 17 games in the midst of a well-publicized clash with Marc Gasol. That led to his job as an ESPN analyst.

“I went in there just force-feeding culture down everyone’s throat,” Fizdale said of his time in Memphis. “I had a small window, I felt, with those guys. So I really tried to fast-track everything. And there’s just some things you can’t rush. You can’t rush relationships, you can’t rush trust, you can’t rush the culture.”

There’s more out of New York:

  • The Knicks are hoping to get injured rookie Kevin Knox back in the lineup soon, possibly by Friday, according to Marc Berman of The New York Post. Knox suffered a sprained ankle in the third game of the season, and his father says he could be ready to return sometime between Friday and November 10. A tweet from the Knicks yesterday relays that Knox is making “good progress” and has “advanced to participating in shooting drills and non-contact court activity.”
  • Former Knicks center Kyle O’Quinn tells Berman it wasn’t an easy decision to leave New York and sign with the Pacers over the summer (Twitter link). “It’s the biggest decision I’ve ever made as far as making a choice in my career,” O’Quinn said. “I slept on it, prayed on it. I made the decision and I’m sticking with it. It’s no secret I would’ve loved to play for Fizdale or be here. It’s tougher than telling a girl you’re moving on.’’
  • The close relationship between Knicks assistant coach Royal Ivey and Warriors star Kevin Durant may give New York an edge in free agency next summer, Berman suggests in another story. They both went to college at Texas and Durant is the godfather of Ivey’s daughter.

Pacific Notes: Rondo, Suns, Cauley-Stein, Bell

Lonzo Ball was once again named the Lakers‘ starting point guard on Saturday against the Spurs, but that doesn’t mean his status in the role will be permanent. Rajon Rondo made a solid return to the lineup after being suspended for three games, scoring 12 points and dishing five assists in 29 minutes. Ball struggled in his first start and shot 2-8 from the floor.

“I didn’t play well tonight,” Ball admitted, according to Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times. “Bad game. I’m human. I don’t play good every game.”

Both Ball and Rondo share similar playstyles, looking to play in transition and make their teammates better. They both struggle shooting from deep and prefer to attack the basket for points. The major difference lies in experience, where Rondo holds 11 more NBA seasons of playing time.

“Doesn’t matter who starts. They are both fine either way,” head coach Walton said. “They just want to win, is what they told me. They know that the decision is made by the coaching staff and they support each other and whatever it is they’ll go out and do their job.”

There’s more from the Pacific Division:

  • The Suns have a promising young core featuring Devin Booker, Josh Jackson and Deandre Ayton, but the organization still has a ways to go before reaching true success, writes Gina Mizell of The Athletic. “Teams don’t just overnight become championship organizations or great playoff teams,” Suns forward Ryan Anderson said. “It takes time to build. You have to allow some time for that, but you can’t really make an excuse for not playing hard.”
  • Willie Cauley-Stein has so far backed up his talk about getting paid next summer, James Ham of NBC Sports writes. Cauley-Stein has averaged an impressive 16.5 points and eight rebounds in six games for the Kings this season.
  • The Mercury News’ Logan Murdock details how Jordan Bell plans to work himself back into the Warriors’ rotation. The 23-year-old has seen limited time behind starting center Damian Jones in the team’s first six games. “It felt good to be out there,” Bell said. “It sucks when you’re watching the team do damage and you know you can help. But you got to understand how to be a pro and just realize some matchups aren’t right.”

New York Notes: Ntilikina, Kanter, Dudley, LeVert

Frank Ntilikina scored a career-high 17 points Friday in his first NBA start at point guard, leaving the Knicks with some decisions to make, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. New coach David Fizdale adjusted his lineup, replacing Trey Burke with Ntilikina and starting rookie Mitchell Robinson along with Noah Vonleh up front and Damyean Dotson at the wing.

“He ran the show, picked his spots,’’ Fizdale said of Ntilikina’s performance. “He didn’t pass up much. I really thought he got after it defensively and competed hard. The guy was playing against one of those special, once-in-a-lifetime talents [Warriors guard Stephen Curry]. I thought he really did a solid job against that.”

Burke started the season’s first five games, but prompted the change with a 1-for-10 shooting night Wednesday. The point guard picture should become more crowded next week when Emmanuel Mudiay is expected to make his season debut after recovering from a sprained ankle. Berman suggests that the Knicks may be realizing that they won’t get a top point guard in free agency and are revisiting the idea of developing Ntilikina at that position.

There’s more news out of New York:

  • Enes Kanter doesn’t seem to be on board with the Knicks‘ new lineup, Berman adds in a separate story. Kanter is normally talkative with the media, but he didn’t have much to say after losing his starting job Friday. It marked Kanter’s first appearance in a reserve role since being traded to New York before the start of last season. “Coach said he wants me to lead the second unit,” he told reporters. “I’m just leading the second unit.’’ Kanter had a chance to leave the Knicks over the summer, but elected to opt in for the final year of his contract.
  • The Nets traded for Jared Dudley to help mentor their young players, but coach Kenny Atkinson says he’s learning things from the 12-year veteran as well, relays Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders. “And for the coach too, right,” Atkinson responded when asked about Dudley’s impact on the team. “The young coach, he’s been in the league longer than I have. I learn things from him every day … his spirit and his enthusiasm and he’s a positive dude.”
  • Caris LeVert promises better times are ahead for long-suffering Nets fans. In an interview with Steve Serby of The New York Post, LeVert expressed confidence that the team has turned the corner. “I think in years past, a lot of people were kind of mocking Nets fans, and Nets players and things like that, but I think those days are over,” he said. “We’re becoming a good team, somebody that people have to respect.”

Five Key Stories: 10/20/18 – 10/27/18

In case you missed any of this past week’s biggest stories from around the NBA, we’ve got you covered with our Week in Review. Listed below are some of the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

Three players – Lakers forward Brandon Ingram, Lakers guard Rajon Rondo, and Rockets’ guard Chris Paul – were suspended for their roles in a fight between the teams last week. Ingram, who commenced the entire issue with a push to James Harden, received four games, while Rondo got three and Paul two. After the suspensions were handed down, Rondo called Paul a “horrible teammate” after Paul accused Rondo of spitting on him during the fight. Rondo denied the spitting.

The Rockets have proposed a trade offer to the Timberwolves for All-Star shooting guard Jimmy Butler that consists of four first-round draft picks in 2019, 2021, 2023 and 2025. However, the T-Wolves are apparently showing no inclination to accept the offer, choosing instead to re-open negotiations with the Heat.

Nuggets swingman Will Barton, who was off to a solid start this season as the team’s starting small forward, suffered an adductor muscle injury in his right hip and core and is expected to miss a couple months. Barton has since undergone successful surgery to repair the injury and he will be re-evaluated in six weeks.

The Pelicans will launch a G League affiliate that will begin play during the 2019/20 season. The team will eventually call Birmingham, AL its permanent home, but will start in Erie, PA while arena renovations are completed. The team isn’t expected to begin play in Birmingham until 2022/23, meaning it will spend three seasons in Erie. The Pelicans will become the 28th of 30 NBA teams with their own affiliate, with only the Nuggets and Trail Blazers still holding out.

The Kings have exercised the rookie scale options on five of their players. Guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, small forward Justin Jacksonand big men Harry Giles and Skal Labissiere will all now have guaranteed contracts for the 2019/20 season. Fox, the highest pick of the five, will have a salary just shy of $6.44MM next season.

Here are 10 more notable NBA headlines from the last week:

Raptors Notes: Kawhi, Wright, Rotation

While there’s a long way to go until next July’s free agent period, the early returns on the Raptors‘ risky acquisition of Kawhi Leonard are encouraging, writes Josh Lewenberg at TSN.ca. While Leonard has looked a little rusty in the preseason, last season’s quad injury hasn’t been an issue at all, and Danny Green said this week that his longtime teammate has been “more vocal than he’s ever been” both on and off the court.

“It looks like he feels comfortable. It looks like he feels at home,” Green said of Leonard. “He’s talking to guys, he’s leading by example, in the huddles he’s chiming in, saying what he feels, saying his opinion. Before he didn’t really show or tell his opinion much.”

As Green pointed out, Leonard may feel more comfortable taking on a leadership role in Toronto than he did in San Antonio, where he was surrounded by veterans like Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and Tim Duncan, as well as a highly accomplished coach like Gregg Popovich. Whether he feels comfortable enough in Toronto to stick around for more than a year remains to be seen.

Here are a few more Raptors-related items:

  • As Delon Wright enters a contract year, Eric Koreen of The Athletic explores the ways in which the Raptors would like to see his game develop, including an increased willingness to shoot the ball from beyond the arc.
  • Wright could avoid restricted free agency in 2019 by reaching an agreement with the Raptors on a contract extension before next Monday’s deadline. Blake Murphy of The Athletic explores what such a deal might look like. In Murphy’s opinion, Toronto would likely jump at a contract in the neighborhood of $8MM per year, but Wright’s side could be justified in seeking something like $12MM annually. The club’s Fred VanVleet ($9MM per year) and Norman Powell ($10.5MM) deals figure to be points of comparison in negotiations with Wright.
  • After the 2017/18 regular season success of the Raptors’ Bench Mob didn’t necessarily translate to the playoffs, new head coach Nick Nurse and his staff are “aiming for a whole new kind of depth” in 2018/19, says Scott Stinson of The National Post. Stinson expects Nurse to explore more piece-by-piece mixing and matching in his lineup, whereas last year’s team often employed two distinct five-man units.

Grizzlies Notes: Expectations, Conley, Brooks

As the 2018/19 regular season nears, the Grizzlies are eager to show that last season’s disastrous 22-60 showing was an aberration, writes Teresa M. Walker of The Associated Press. Longtime general manager Chris Wallace is pleased with an offseason that saw the club add Kyle Anderson in free agency and Jaren Jackson Jr. in the draft, indicating earlier this week that he expects Memphis to get back in the postseason picture.

“I’m very confident we’ll be back in the thick of things in the Western Conference, and we’ve had a lot of success against these teams over the years,” Wallace said. “We’ve done well in the playoffs against some of the top teams in the West. I think we can continue that after a year on the sidelines. We’re raring to get back into the playoffs and be a real factor again.”

Here’s more from out of Memphis:

  • Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley was limited to just 12 games last season due to heel and Achilles issues, but he has been medically cleared and is pain-free during training camp, Walker writes for The Associated Press. “You’d be hard pressed to find a bigger free agent signing than us bringing Mike Conley back healthy,” new head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said this week.
  • Conley isn’t the only Grizzlies player who’s feeling better heading into the 2018/19 season. As Peter Edmiston of The Memphis Commercial Appeal details, there are virtually no health concerns in Memphis at the moment, with oft-injured forward Chandler Parsons also taking part in every session during training camp. Edmiston also passes along a few more takeaways from the Grizzlies’ first week of camp.
  • The battle for playing time at shooting guard for the Grizzlies figures to be fierce , with Garrett Temple, MarShon Brooks, and Wayne Selden among the club’s options. Michael Wallace of Grizzlies.com takes a closer look at the situation, observing that Dillon Brooks – who played primarily at small forward last year but could shift more to the two with Anderson in the mix – can’t afford a sophomore slump if he wants to retain a key role in Memphis’ lineup.