Disclaimer: I was against the Minnesota Timberwolves acquiring Jimmy Butler from day one, but that’s a story for another time.
It is becoming more clear by the day, but the Minnesota Timberwolves need to trade Jimmy Butler ASAP. He is putting the organization in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, and he continues to do so on a nightly basis.
His behavior is similar to that of a child who promises to make a scene until his parents (or in this case the Timberwolves’ front office) gives him his way.
Whether it is him choosing to sit out games for “precautionary rest” or the now infamous video of him waving a towel along with Golden State Warriors‘ fans during Friday’s game, he is doing all the wrong things in his attempt to be traded. During that Warriors game, ESPN’s Mark Jackson said that Jimmy Butler wouldn’t accept that behavior from any of his teammates. Yet Butler has no problem with that type of behavior when it benefits him.
Therein lies the problem: Butler only seems to care about himself, not the Timberwolves. This is the reason he will (hopefully) be joining his third team in three years before the season ends.
Butler’s individual stats are hard to argue. He is currently averaging 22.3 points, 5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game in the 7 games he’s chosen to play. The ‘Wolves are 1-2 without Butler on the floor, but also only 3-4 with him. This isn’t to say they’re a better team without him, but they also don’t look all that great with him on the floor.
It becomes a two-fold problem: he isn’t making the Timberwolves a better team right now, but he’s also stunting the growth of the young core, namely Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. In the two games last weekend, there was a stark difference between Minnesota and its opponents. Not only in the level of play but in the obvious chemistry and joy of the Warriors and Trailblazers compared to the listlessness of the Timberwolves.
One specific Timberwolves’ play comes to mind from the weekend set. Against the Warriors, Butler was leading a 4-on-1 fast break and instead of pass to any of his three open teammates he chose to go right at the defender and ended up getting stripped of the ball.
That one play was a microcosm of the Timberwolves’ entire season, dating back to his preseason practice rant. He seems to think he is the savior of this team when, in all reality, he appears to be doing the exact opposite.
Butler monopolizes the offense and, at times, grinds it to a halt. The Timberwolves look like a far better offensive team without him on the floor. Without Butler, they play more freely and move the ball around without fear of getting on Butler’s bad side. Defensively the team is obviously better with Butler on the floor, but not so much so that it justifies the drama he is creating.
It’s not too late for the Timberwolves to trade Butler. The ‘Wolves must act before this saga spirals too far out of control. But for the sake of saving the rest of the season and not putting the team’s young core even further behind, the team needs to trade Butler soon. The market for Butler seems to have cooled, but the Heat and Rockets still come to mind as suitors for his services.
There is little to no chance of the Timberwolves’ organization recouping even close what it gave up to get Butler, but it has to accept something soon and move on with the season and what still looks like a bright future.