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Tom Thibodeau says Jimmy Butler helped ‘change the culture’ with Timberwolves

Jimmy Butler, Tom Thibodeau

Jimmy Butler wasn’t in a Minnesota Timberwolves uniform for a great deal of his career, but he definitely found a way to make his mark on the franchise.

Tom Thibodeau, who coached Butler on both the Chicago Bulls and most recently the Timberwolves, had nothing but good things to say about the 29-year-old shooting guard on Monday’s episode of The Starters.

“He helped us change the culture there,” Thibodeau said. “Every year, he’s gotten better. I think he’ll continue to get better, and he brought the best out in people.

Butler’s fallout with the organization started late in the offseason and early preseason. At the time, he insinuated that he had no plans of signing a contract extension, nor playing alongside Karl-Anthony Towns or Andrew Wiggins, after one of the most infamous practices we heard about all year.

Not even two months following Butler’s turbulent trade to the Philadelphia 76ers, Thibodeau was dismissed as Minnesota’s head coach after starting the season with an underwhelming 19-21 record. He was also the team president during that juncture.

Perhaps Thibs was referencing their terrific 2017-18 campaign. The Timberwolves went 47-35, and reached the NBA Playoffs for the first time in over a decade. Butler played the star role, posting 22.2 points per game.

It’s doubtful Minnesota fans will hold that distant memory near to their hearts. Because they surely didn’t feel those vibes when Butler made his first trip back there earlier this season.

Butler and the 76ers will look to close out their first-round series to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday.

The Sixers lead 3-1, despite Butler’s third quarter ejection Saturday in Game 4.