SALT LAKE CITY, UT – NOVEMBER 13: Jimmy Butler #23 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and teammate Karl-Anthony Towns #32 talk during a second half time out during their 109-98 win over the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on November 13, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)



So, here I was, enjoying my day and the fact that Kirk Cousins is tweeting out videos made by Minnesota Sports Fan’s own Johnny Minnesota

…when this tweet by Bleacher Report swoops in and ruins the day the basketball offseason for Wolves fans.

The report was originally from Joe Cowley, of the Chicago Sun-Times, as part of a story claiming that Jimmy Butler and Kyrie Irving are aiming to team-up when both can leave after next season. Cowley doesn’t dance around the subject of Jimmy’s frustration landing primarily on Karl-Anthony Towns:

As for Butler, a league source said that he also has no intentions of signing an extension with Minnesota, all but fed up with the nonchalant attitude of his younger teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony Towns

There are so many things going through my head right now and I’m sure Timberwolves’ fans around the state are feeling the same way. So, I’ve decided to break my thoughts down into the biggest players of this story (KAT, Butler, Thibs).

But first, how badly has this experiment gone so far? Around this time last year, everyone was cheering the incoming superstar, Jimmy Butler, except me…

Voicing my frustrations on losing my favorite player in Zach LaVine, and any sense of a strong bench or free agency money to play with over the next couple of years, almost got me shunned out of MN. I made a Twitter Moment out of it for all to enjoy:


However, I will admit that I still expected the Wolves to be competitive. I expected to compete for top-3 or 4 seeds in the West while we waited for Golden State to fizzle out and our budding superstars to grow. In the meantime, with Wiggins already secured, both Jimmy and KAT would sign max-extensions (why make the trade if not). That meant we were staring at 5-7 years of great basketball at the Target Center, right? Not so fast…

Now, if Jimmy Butler leaves town, the Timberwolves traded their future for a present that never existed and Tom Thibodeau will be thrown out of Minnesota and never allowed to return.

So, who do we blame? Where do we go from here? Who’s side do you take?

I don’t know. So, let’s look at it together.

What does this say about Jimmy?

Well, I’m not sure I’m hiring Jimmy Butler as my professional motivator. He has now dug into the media to get his point across to teammates multiple times. Before today, he’d gone after unnamed young guys on the team and even Andrew Wiggins, but had never mentioned the “untouchable” Karl-Anthony Towns. Now he has. I don’t know how I feel about it. There are a lot of emotions to deal with right now.

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Here is one thing to remember before you get upset about how Butler is handling this through the media. This is pure speculation, but to think Jimmy hasn’t sat down these young guys and told them how he feels to their face seems a little short-sided. If he is willing to use his agent and the media like this, I’d sure hope it’s as more of a last-ditch effort than an ugly habit. Is Jimmy just throwing shade or is he making desperate efforts to reach his younger star-bound teammates before it’s too late, because he feels he’s tried everything else? I’d lean on the latter but I have no inside information.

What does this say about KAT?

We need to start expecting more out of our young superstar. Minnesota loves KAT for so many reasons. He is our basketball savior, at the end of the day. He was Flip’s last gift of so many, that he gave Minnesota Basketball. Plus, beyond basketball, Towns is smart and driven to be a good human. What’s not to love?

On the basketball floor, KAT has seen some criticism for disappearing at times both offensively and defensively. Usually however, most point to Thibs and his lack of desire to get KAT involved, more than they point the finger at Towns directly. Jimmy seems to disagree with this notion, clearly. He is calling Karl out. Is Karl going to answer the call or is he going to wait for Jimmy and Thibs to be ushered out of the state while we hope he and Wiggins can help build a future team that can compete in the West? A West that now houses LeBron James for the last 4 years of his prime.

Karl talks a big game on his dedication. Do we believe him or do we believe Jimmy? Is there a happy middle ground?

What does this say about Thibs?

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On Thibs, this seems to be the fork in the road. Not just for his time in Minnesota, but also for his head-coaching career. As a head coach, Thibs has less credibility now, than he did before he coached a game for the Wolves. In Chicago, most people saw the front office as the problem, giving Thibs a pass on the organizational problems and LOTS of job offers after leaving Chicago.

Now, he’s seen as dying breed of coaches who refuse to change with the times of the NBA. One who plays his starters too many minutes and yells at them too much. His coaching supposedly lives in a time where discipline and defense show on the floor and stubbornness, scheme-based coaching and managing win titles. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore and it’s clear that some Free Agents are avoiding him. On top of that, the state of Minnesota is definitely against him and this story from Cowley isn’t going to help his case.

However, he has some things playing in his favor. The best player currently on the team is Jimmy Butler. Jimmy likes Thibs more than anyone else in the organization and this story shows that. If Tom can unite the old souls of he and Jimmy Butler with the new-age minds of KAT and Wiggins, the narrative takes a 180 again. He’d be a “uniter” instead of a “divider”.

No matter who is right or who is wrong or who tries or who doesn’t….. If this doesn’t get fixed, the Wolves’ future is f****d.

Eric Strack
MinnesotaSportsFan.com (@RealMNSportsFan)