Since last week, rumors have been swirling regarding the various destinations where Jimmy Butler may be traded to. While most reports on Butler dating back to the summer months have referenced the 29-year-old forward’s alleged frustration with young, talented teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the latest from The Athletic‘s Jon Krawczynski has offered more details on when Butler supposedly became unhappy with the Timberwolves for the first time. And if these new rumors are accurate, Butler started falling out of love with the team weeks before reports first hinted at his feud with Towns and Wiggins.
Citing Krawczynski’s members’ only article for The Athletic, Bleacher Report wrote on Thursday that the first signs of a rift between Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves emerged after eighth-seeded Minnesota lost in the first round of the 2018 playoffs to the first-seeded Houston Rockets. Allegedly upset over the 4-1 loss to the Rockets, Butler didn’t fly back with his teammates to Minnesota but instead headed to Los Angeles. Krawczynski’s report also suggested that Butler refused to complete a medical test usually included in team exit interviews.
“A few days later, he started conveying his concern for the franchise and casting doubts on his willingness to stay long-term,” Krawczynski continued, as quoted by NBC Sports.
“Butler can become a free agent after this season, and his representatives talked with [Timberwolves head coach Tom] Thibodeau in July about his unwillingness to re-sign in Minnesota, sources said. Butler conveyed the same message directly to Thibodeau in August when the coach came to California to visit him after he had hand surgery.”
Around the time Jimmy Butler and his representatives were supposedly meeting with Minnesota Timberwolves team officials to sort out his situation, the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley cited league sources and reported that the four-time All-Star wingman was planning to team up with Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and “take over” the Eastern Conference once they become eligible for free agency in the summer of 2019. Cowley added that Butler was frustrated with the “nonchalant attitudes” of center Karl-Anthony Towns and other younger teammates.
Regardless of when Jimmy Butler first wanted to leave the Minnesota Timberwolves, all of the tension behind the scenes apparently led to the present scenario, where several NBA teams are said to be interested in trading for him. According to NBC Sports‘ Kurt Helin, this could result in the Timberwolves, sans Butler, missing the 2019 NBA playoffs, as there’s a good chance the team will not get equal value in return for their disgruntled superstar.