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Inquiring teams confused, frustrated with Timberwolves in pursuit of Jimmy Butler trade

Teams inquiring for All-Star forward Jimmy Butler are reportedly frustrated and confused by the Minnesota Timberwolves’ chaotic stance since a trade request was submitted in person last Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.

The see-saw has been a non-stop factor in the Twin Cities, with the owner, general manager, and president of basketball operations all pointing in different ways, leaving those interested confused about their intentions.

To recapitulate — Butler requested a trade on Tuesday, a move which went viral on Wednesday but was shut down over the next two days by president/head coach Tom Thibodeau, who told teams he intended to keep Butler as one of the team’s elite players.

Thibodeau likely knew he would not get equal value in exchange for Butler, and walking back the very trade he made a year ago could result in getting stripped of his executive title, causing him to keep Butler against his will.

Owner Glen Taylor met with other owners at their annual meeting in New York on Friday and encouraged them to reach out with trade proposals, even if it meant bypassing the chain of command and reaching out to him directly — all while scolding his front office and demanding they not only take calls for Butler but also initiate them.

“As the trade process grinds along, some interested teams are working to bypass Layden and go directly to Wolves ownership with trade offers,” wrote ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “Teams dealing with Minnesota describe an unusual level of confusion. Some have heard separately from Taylor and the Layden/Thibodeau management team, with little apparent coordination between the two levels of Minnesota’s organization. There have been bubbles of optimism that Taylor has convinced Layden and Thibodeau to follow his edict to trade Butler soon, but those have so far given way to renewed uncertainty and hazy chains of communication.”

This was followed by Thibodeau’s recent meeting with Butler, hoping to mend fences and re-hash the situation to see if he would stay — something which put trade talks on hold for a few hours before he was right back in the market, staying put in his decision to be traded.

The constant back-and-forth has not only cost the flow of trade conversations, but also tested the patience of teams that are trying to get a deal done early in training camp, as opposed to during the regular season, giving Butler no time to adjust to his new destination.