Since the 2018 NBA offseason started, rumors and speculations have continued to swirl that Jimmy Butler already wants out of the Minnesota Timberwolves. The 28-year-old small forward recently rejected the $100 million contract extension offered by the Timberwolves, heating up the speculation that he intends to test the free agency market in the summer of 2019. Less than a month before the training camp starts, reports surfaced that Butler and his Team USA teammate, Kyrie Irving, are planning to play together in one team.
Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau is definitely aware of the rumors surrounding his best player. However, he thinks Butler’s decision not to sign the contract extension doesn’t necessarily mean that he will leave in 2019 NBA free agency. Financially, signing a new deal this offseason doesn’t make any sense for Butler since he can earn bigger money when he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
In a recent interview with Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Thibodeau said that they remain confident that they can convince Jimmy Butler to stay beyond the 2018-19 NBA season. The 60-year-old coach strongly believes that Minnesota is still the “best place” for Butler.
“We wanted him to know how important he is to the future of the organization. The winning will take care of that. We know the position we’re in. We have a lot to offer him. We think this is the best place for him, and it’s up to us to show him the reasons why.”
The rumored drama in Minnesota actually started when the Timberwolves suffered a first-round exit in the Western Conference Playoffs. Jimmy Butler was reportedly disappointed with his young teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony and Andrew Wiggins, especially with their work ethic and approach on the defensive end of the floor. Coach Tom Thibodeau denied that such things exist in their organization and said that if Butler is really frustrated with Towns and Wiggins, he would have said it to them directly.
“I’ve been around a long time; I don’t buy into any of that stuff,” Thibodeau said. “You have to distinguish what’s real and what’s not real. You never heard any of that come from Jimmy’s mouth. It’s always a source close to Jimmy.”
Whether his dispute with his teammates is true or not, Jimmy Butler will continue to be part of various NBA rumors between now and 2019 NBA free agency. If the Timberwolves can not get a commitment from Butler that he intends to stay long-term, they may consider making him available on the trading block before the February NBA trade deadline.