The Minnesota Timberwolves have been one tough cookie when it comes to facilitating a trade for All-Star forward Jimmy Butler, leaving teams confused and frustrated with their demands. Inquiring front offices believe president/head coach Tom Thibodeau wants to at the very least recoup the assets he originally lost in trading for Butler during the 2017 NBA Draft, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Zach Lowe.
Thibodeau traded up-and-coming shooting guard Zach LaVine, second-year point man Kris Dunn to the Chicago Bulls, as well as swapped the fourth overall selection (Lauri Markkanen) for the seventh (Justin Patton) — a deal which hasn’t aged well, to say the least.
The Wolves are reportedly asking for quality veterans, top prospects, future assets and salary cap relief, which has been too steep of an asking price for most teams to meet.
To make matters worst, Minnesota has zero leverage in this trade, given Butler’s refusal to participate in training camp or to ever put on a Timberwolves jersey again, making all three of his original favorite teams (L.A. Clippers, New York Knicks, and Brooklyn Nets) likely to wait until the 2019 offseason to potentially save $50 million over a five-year max deal.
The Miami Heat, who have been the fastest charging franchise in pursuit of Jimmy Butler, have also been frustrated with the Timberwolves’ ridiculous demands. Furthermore, “teams pursuing Butler remain skeptical of Thibodeau’s desire to execute a trade, believing that he’s making counter proposals that Tom Thibodeau knows teams will never accept.”
While there is sympathy for Thibodeau’s precarious situation; as he was originally brought in and asked to bring this core to the playoffs, front offices just can’t meet such a steep price, considering that Butler would demand a five-year, $190 million max contract next summer or leave (would only make $140 million over five years as an unrestricted free agent).
A contract of such heft would leave a team paying Butler potentially upwards of $40 million at age 34 if they traded for him now — making that too risky a proposition to gift away so many assets for a player that clearly doesn’t want to play in the Twin Cities any longer.