We’ve seen this story before. Another NBA Superstar has vocalized their displeasure with their current franchise and requested a trade. Jimmy Butler is the latest star to ask the franchise for a trade but this is different than the previous players: George, Irving and Leonard.
With George, you have a player that had been in Indiana for 7 seasons and didn’t trust the organization could get the pieces around him to win. So, he asked to be traded because he wanted Indiana to find someone for him. Pacers fans take this personal, but Paul gave the Pacers plenty of time to find the right deal for him. After it’s all said and done, the Pacers might have gotten back more than what they gave up.
For Irving, he had been rumored in multiple trade discussions that would help Cleveland acquire Eric Bledsoe and Paul George. Irving also felt like he was talented enough to be the face of a franchise. With Dan Gilbert not bringing back David Griffin, the level of trust for Irving was minimal. He was dealt to the Celtics that summer.
Leonard on the other hand is the closest to Butler in terms of comparing their reasoning for a trade request. However, Leonard has never once said anything on why he wanted out of San Antonio. The rumors reported that he wanted to be in a bigger market, preferably Los Angeles. The front office of San Antonio did all they could to keep things on the hush-hush, but people around the league knew that this marriage was going to end.
Jimmy Butler’s situation just feels different. He and his agent orchestrated an interview with Rachel Nichols after he attended his first practice with the 2018-2019 Timberwolves Training Camp Roster. Butler stated in his interview “I’m so passionate and I love the game. I don’t do it for any other reason but to compete and to go up against the best to try and prove that I can hang.” Butler continued “all of my emotion came out at one time. Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing”.
This interview clearly was a way for Jimmy Butler to try and showcase why he is in the right here. Butler met with Tom Thibodeau in Los Angeles and with the rest of the Timberwolves management the week prior to NBA Media Day. Butler waited until the middle of September to voice his frustrations and request a trade. There still is no evidence to why Butler wants out of Minnesota but speculation is that Towns and Butler don’t get along.
I get in today’s day and age that everyone should be pro-player and that we shouldn’t side with management because the players are the ones making them money. There is also something called, respect. Jimmy Butler disrespected the organization by orchestrating a meeting and for making a scene at practice for everyone to see. He doesn’t want to work things out with Minnesota so why did he show up to practice with them? It is mind boggling to me why Thibodeau hasn’t shut down the motivated Butler from being apart of this team.
Minnesota would be absolutely asinine to keep Butler on this roster. It is smart for them to hold off on making a deal, because they did unload a handful to acquire Butler. However, they should dismiss Butler from the team and all Towns to be the focal point of the offense. Towns and Wiggins are locked up long term in Minnesota and allowing them to play in a comfortable environment, instead of forcing Butler into the mix makes the most sense.
There will be a numerous amount of teams that will continue to call about Butler. Especially if a general manager is failing to meet his owners’ expectations. There is absolutely no reason Jimmy Butler should play another game in a Timberwolves jersey and if Jimmy Butler wants to continue to run to ESPN to highlight his side of the story, let that be on Jimmy Butler. Minnesota should be cautious with this situation going forward and should patiently, but diligently look to find Butler a new home, while acquiring assets that can support the talents of Wiggins and Towns.
You can’t blame Minnesota for acquiring Butler. He helped this team reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Thibodeau took a gamble on acquiring Butler, and for one season it worked out. For the long haul, it didn’t, but this is not the Timberwolves fault.
This is 100% on Jimmy Butler, and he is the reason for the unnecessary drama in Minnesota. This is about money and not about winning. I think we forget that the NBA is just as much a business as it is a sport. The Timberwolves didn’t cause this mess, the Butler did it.
Alex Golden is the founder and editor in chief of The Up&Under.