Report: Tom Thibodeau mismanaged Jimmy Butler-Karl-Anthony Towns relationship with Timberwolves
Tom Thibodeau will have a lot to prove once he’s back on the sidelines, this time leading the New York Knicks as the new head coach. Fixing some of his old mistakes from his days with the Minnesota Timberwolves will be among the first items on his list.
“I think that relationship may not have been managed as well as it could have been organizationally,” an executive there at the time told Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic. He then adds, “They’re two alphas. Jimmy did some things I thought he should have been reprimanded for and was not. At some level, that was Tom’s job.”
Butler’s relationship with Towns turned sour relatively quick. The Timberwolves at one point had the fifth-best record in the league when Butler was in the lineup, but an injury represented a setback for the team.
The All-Star forward returned right in time to steer the ship back en route to the playoffs, but the team’s woes became very apparent during a first-round loss to the Houston Rockets.
Butler questioned Towns’ commitment to winning, and his snarky comments would often pour like acid in the ears of his young teammates. Butler’s tiff with Towns didn’t form overnight, but Thibodeau was likely encased in other preoccupations to pay too much mind to that.
In retrospect, that could have been his downfall, as Butler would soon request a trade and bring the house down along with him — a crash that ultimately would take Thibodeau’s job later that season.
It has been nearly two years since Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, hopefully enough time for Thibodeau to reconcile some of his mistakes, including this oversight that he would be wise to learn from when dealing with big personalities.