Karl Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler, two Timberwolves NBA All-Stars, can’t stand each other if you believe the stories that have been written and the circling rumors.
I covered the NBA All-Star game back in February in Los Angeles when they both were selected. For the first time in years, the Timberwolves had two-players selected; Towns played well in the game, and Butler did not play at all. The fact that the two guys took separate flights to and from the All-Star game speaks to the seriousness of their issues with each other.
All 30 franchises are valued at $1 billion or more in the ever-changing NBA. Players make guaranteed contracts and they leave if they want and teams can trade or cut them. For example, LeBron James recently left Cleveland and signed with Los Angeles. Yes, the Lakers, a team that won just 35 games last year is now loading up for a playoff run.
Team President and Head Coach Tom Thibodeau guided the Timberwolves to the playoffs last season. They were 47-35, good for eighth in the West. Are happy days here again? Not so fast.
Since being eliminated from the playoffs by Houston in five games, Butler has made it clear how badly he wants to win. The feeling is that he is not pleased with Towns and Andrew Wiggins and what developed last season. Butler missed 23 games last year with a knee injury, the most games he’s missed in a season in his career. Despite that fact, the Timberwolves put a four-year $138 million offer for Butler to sign on the table.
He has not yet signed it. He and [Uncle Drew] Kyrie Irving, NBA star of the Boston Celtics and star of the movie Uncle Drew, were teammates on Team USA a couple of years ago and are fond of each other.
The Timberwolves are moving forward. They had a successful season and draft and added two really promising talented young players, Josh Okogie and Keita Bates Diop. They re-signed former three-time NBA All-Star and league MVP, Derrick Rose.
I know for a fact that Towns and Butler respect each other and the Timberwolves want both players back. Butler and Towns are both in the last year of current contracts. Towns is happy here, the Timberwolves gave up a lot in the trade with Chicago to acquire Butler last year, and both Thibodeau and Butler are extremely high on each other.
The Wolves do indeed want to resign Towns soon; he is the foundation of the team’s rising fortunes. I believe Butler will come around and play. The Wolves don’t want to lose him either.
This is a sticky situation, but Thibodeau makes $10 million a year leading this franchise. He will do what’s best. Let’s all be patient and allow this schism to play itself out.