One of the calling cards of any successful NBA franchise is synergy between the front office and ownership. That’s the exact opposite of what’s currently happening with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jimmy Butler wants out of Minnesota, but head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden have reportedly been reluctant to make a deal. On Friday, however, Wolves owner Glen Taylor apparently cleared up the situation.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Taylor told owners and executives at the NBA‘s Board of Governors meetings that Butler is available, and that if they’re having trouble getting a hold of Thibodeau and Layden, they should contact Taylor himself. Via ESPN:
The growing disconnect between Minnesota’s ownership and front office has created an impression for opposing teams that a showdown between Taylor and Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves’ president of basketball operations and head coach, looms as an increasingly plausible conclusion to Butler’s trade request.
“The owner’s trading him,” one Board of Governors attendee told ESPN on Friday. “That was made clear. It’s just a matter of when.”
“He basically said, ‘If you don’t get anywhere with [Layden], and you’ve got something good, bring it to me,” another high-ranking league official told ESPN.
Taylor’s point of view is understandable. He’s trying to put a winning product on the floor after his team ended a 13-season playoff drought last year, and the last thing he wants is a malcontent who doesn’t want to be there. The longer the team waits to make a deal, the higher the risk that teams back off and simply wait for Butler to become a free agent next summer. So Taylor appears to want to make sure they at least get something for their All-NBA wing.
This isn’t a good look for the Wolves’ organization — at times like this you want to either stay completely quiet (like the Spurs did after the Kawhi Leonard trade request) or present a united front. The Timberwolves are doing neither, and it only makes them look more desperate and confused to potential trade partners.
Taylor has been around for trades involving franchise superstars Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love, and it appears he’s ready to do what it takes to unload Butler as well.
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