Jimmy Butler has made it clear he does not want to be in Minnesota, by requesting a trade 10 months before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Anyone reading that would conclude the only option for the Timberwolves is to trade him and get something back for him. However, the Timberwolves are not everyone and are reportedly shutting down trade offers. In other words, they are determined to lose him for absolutely nothing.
Wojnarowski added in his report that while usually, this is “an opening message that’s followed with a query on what a prospective trade partner might offer in a hypothetical deal” that has not been the Timberwolves’ dialogue with teams thus far.
If this really is the decision they have made, it would be nothing short of a humiliation for a franchise that is often laughed at for its ineptitude. There are only three reasons to justify not trading a superstar player that is telling you he will get up and leave at the end of the season: The team feels they can change the player’s mind, compete for a championship that year, or survive the dysfunction it will cause. None of those apply for Butler’s current team.
Minnesota has no history of showing they can change any player’s mind in a positive direction and currently have a core with Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns that clearly don’t even like playing with Butler. The amount of chaos that keeping Butler would do to the already chaotic locker room would certainly not be worth the upside of a team not going anywhere anyway this year.
If this does end up being just a smokescreen, something to watch is the value being offered for Butler from the teams that feel they can just sign him in the offseason (Knicks, Clippers, Nets). The trend as of late are teams not named on the wishlist taking a chance as seen with the Thunder – successfully – with Paul George and the Raptors with Kawhi Leonard.