The Jimmy Butler saga is getting out of control. After watching his outstanding play against the Los Angeles Lakers, leading the Minnesota Timberwolves to victory.
On Wednesday, Butler sat out the game with “general soreness” while teammate Derrick Rose looked every bit like the MVP-caliber player he was in Chicago as he scored 50 points in a win over the Utah Jazz. The hopes of many Timberwolves fans is that the rumored four first-round draft picks trade for Butler will come to fruition and the team can continue to build around its young core.
As much press as Butler gets as the bad guy, I do think that some of his concerns are true. Do Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns want to win more than they want to be celebrities? Does the front office really know what they are doing in regards to bringing in talent that will help the team make a competitive run?
Butler’s role on the Timberwolves was to be one-half leader and other half, big brother. He was supposed to guide the younger players to becoming a successful two-way talent like him and help the Timberwolves develop into a consistent playoff team like in the days of Kevin Garnett.
Has he fulfilled his role?
Butler helped lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs last year, breaking a 13-year hiatus from the postseason. Despite battling injury during the season, the team seemed to find its groove (although, still have several games where they would collapse in a quarter) and Butler was that third-piece to what looked like a promising lineup. A first-round exit was slightly expected as the team ran into the Houston Rockets, but fans saw promise in the future and anticipated the offseason.
Fast forward to the current state and many are just waiting for the other shoe to drop and to see another All-Star set sail for a brighter future. While the team is set with Wiggins and Towns for the near future, the team is stuck looking for the type of performance they got out of Rose on a nightly basis from an aging lineup. Rookie shooting guard Josh Okogie looks like a valuable piece, but he is still getting acclimated to the league and it will require some time before he gets mentioned as a top shooting guard.
Although I remain highly skeptical of NBA draft picks turning a franchise around, four first-round choices would have saw me help Butler pack and maybe even pay his taxi fare on the way to the airport. Allegedly, head coach Tom Thibodeau is holding out a package that includes guard Eric Gordon as he does not want to sacrifice the opportunity to make the playoffs. I like the thought process from Thibs as the Timberwolves need pieces that will help the team win currently, not three years from now. The window for Towns and Wiggins may close before another drafted star can emerge.
Although I believe it has been a headache for the organization and a feeding frenzy for the media, Butler is valuable to the team. My hope was that a meeting between management would have sparked an understanding. Instead, the Timberwolves have a rent-a-player until the end of the season.
What makes fans more agitated is the way Butler has gone about his plan to leave. Hollering at coaches and staff during an open practice, distancing himself from the team and interrupting Rose’s interview. Although dissatisfied, he could be classy.
Let’s hope that this gets resolved very soon.
Zach Stich is the managing editor at The Fergus Falls Daily Journal.