As it oftentimes is in the NBA, it is more about the overall fit than anything else.
Jimmy Butler is arguably the Timberwolves’ best player, unfortunately, he has been a horrible fit.
Butler’s hardworking, earn your keep personality did not mesh well with many of his teammates past or present. The Timberwolves did their best to accommodate him by bringing in his former Chicago Bulls‘ cohorts Taj Gibson and Derrick Rose. Both Gibson and Rose proved to be productive players in the Timberwolves’ locker room.
Individual success followed Butler to the Timberwolves and it translated into victories. The big problem is that Butler was difficult to get along with. The same would not be said about Middleton.
Having a harmonious locker room is just as important as talent to the Timberwolves if they want wins to pile up. Butler is a better player, but Middleton would be a better fit.
Butler had a difficult time settling in the role as the second option on the Timberwolves. Yes, he was playing with Karl-Anthony Towns as the featured attraction, but if he caught by himself Butler would probably say that Towns did not earn that distinction. This is likely why Butler wants out of town.
For the sake of the locker room, the Timberwolves will look to grant his request. Middleton would be a better choice in terms of his fit as a complementary star.