When they signed Luol Deng in the buyout market, the Minnesota Timberwolves immediately gained the nickname “Timberbulls.” This offseason, Timberwolves Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has reunited with four players – Deng, Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, and Taj Gibson – who made his stint with the Chicago Bulls’ successful. However, Thibodeau is currently on the verge of losing his biggest acquisition since being hired as the Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations.
After the Timberwolves suffered an early exit in the Western Conference Playoffs, rumors and speculations started to swirl about Jimmy Butler’s frustration with his young teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Less than a month before the 2018-19 NBA season officially starts, Butler demanded a trade from the Timberwolves and gave them a list of his preferred trade destinations.
According to Nick Friedell of ESPN, Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose were both caught off-guard with Jimmy Butler’s desire to leave the Timberwolves. Gibson, who worked out with Butler all summer, admitted that he didn’t see Butler’s trade demand coming since it looked like everything was going good in Minnesota. However, before making a conclusion, Gibson urged people to analyze Butler’s situation from a player’s standpoint and a business standpoint.
Meanwhile, Derrick Rose shared the same sentiment as Taj Gibson and said that he respects Butler’s decision. Of all his teammates, Rose knows more of what Butler feels right now since he has been in the same situation before.
“Now in the NBA, everybody has a little bit of freedom to do a little more of what they want,” Rose said. “And he’s expressing that he don’t want to be here and he want to go somewhere else. I mean, Kawhi [Leonard] did it last year, didn’t he? Like he just didn’t play. Jimmy just came out and said he didn’t want to play here. I had so much [stuff] going on, I couldn’t even focus on what was really going on with the team. I signed early, and I left everything up to Thibs.”
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) September 28, 2018
Coach Tom Thibodeau tried to convince Jimmy Butler to rejoin them in the preseason, but the 29-year-old small forward doesn’t seem to be interested in wearing the Timberwolves’ jersey anymore. If they decide to keep him, Butler informed the Timberwolves that he will still leave the team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. As of now, several NBA teams have already expressed strong interest in adding Butler to their roster. Unfortunately, a deal is not expected to happen until the Timberwolves lower their asking price for their disgruntled superstar.