Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler requested a trade on Wednesday, but the odds of team president and head coach Tom Thibodeau actually moving out his franchise player seems extremely unlikely.
According to Sean Deveney of Sporting News, Thibodeau would simply rather leave the Timberwolves organization than trade the four-time All-Star, whom he coaches back in Chicago some years earlier.
"No one expects Tom to coach a 25-win or even 35-win team," an executive said. "Even if he has to agree to dissolve the contract, they'd do that before they go and trade Butler for draft picks."
It was later reported by ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that the Timberwolves are intent on keeping Butler for now; thus rebuffing any trade offers from rival teams. Minnesota wants to keep Butler in order to stay competitive and chase another playoff spot in the brutal Western Conference.
So even though Butler is a shoe-in to opt out and test free agency next year, the T-Wolves are intent on holding onto him for at least the start of 2018-19, rather than secure future assets for the two-way superstar.
Wojnarowski reported that the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers and New York Knicks are at the top of Butler's wish list, since all three of them have the cap space to give him the supermax extension. Butler also likes the fact they all have room to add another marquee free agent in next year's class, too.
Butler led the Timberwolves to their first playoff berth in 14 years last season, averaging 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. Butler rejected a four-year, $110 million extension from the Timberwolves earlier in the offseason, and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic reported that his trade request stemmed from the contract situation.
The Butler saga will be worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses. Perhaps the Timberwolves receive an offer they can't refuse, or maybe Butler decides he wants to stay in Minnesota after all.