The addition of Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson, and Jeff Teague greatly helped the Minnesota Timberwolves in ending their 14-year playoff drought. Before the start of the season, most people believed that the starting lineup of Teague, Butler, Gibson, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns could challenge the Golden State Warriors for Western Conference supremacy. Unfortunately, their greatest achievement this season was reaching the first round of the playoffs and being eliminated in just five games by the Houston Rockets.
After the season officially ended for the Timberwolves, drama started to swirl around Minnesota. Starting from the rumors about a potential trade involving Karl-Anthony Towns, Sean Deveney of Sporting News recently reported on the growing dispute between Jimmy Butler and Andrew Wiggins.
“Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t.”
Wiggins’ defense has been a major issue ever since he entered the league in 2014. Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau traded for Jimmy Butler with the hope that he could influence Wiggins to exert more effort on the defensive end of the floor. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as Thibodeau expected.
To make things more complicated, the arrival of Jimmy Butler in Minnesota has a bad effect on Andrew Wiggins’ performance on the offensive end of the floor. As Deveney noted, sharing the court with Butler forced Wiggins to sacrifice lots of shot attempts, but his true shooting percentage dropped from 54.3 to 50.5. It also affected his player efficiency, which went down from 16.5 to 13.0.
Butler’s concern about Wiggins’ work ethic and defense could play a major role in whether he will sign a contract extension with the Timberwolves this summer or not. The 28-year-old has a player option on his contract that will enable him to become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2019. If the Timberwolves fail to address the issue, they will be forced to part ways with either superstar, and there is a high possibility that Wiggins is the one who is going to be traded.
However, despite his superstar potential, trading Wiggins won’t be easy for the Timberwolves since he just signed a massive contract extension. The Timberwolves should find a team with salary cap space who is willing to absorb Wiggins’ contract and give them quality trade assets in return.