The problem is Butler doesn’t have a no-trade clause, so the Timberwolves have the capability of flipping him to whichever team they choose. The bigger problem might be that Minnesota general manager and head coach Tom Thibodeau reportedly won’t deal the four-time all-star for the exact assets those three teams would likely need to send in return for Butler.
According to Sean Deveney of the Sporting News, Thibodeau has “no intention of letting Butler go for young, rebuilding-type pieces.”
The thought process behind this, according to the report, lies in the fact he took Minnesota’s head coaching job in 2015 with the expectation that the team would begin contending quickly, made the trade for his old Chicago Bulls standout Butler last summer to accelerate this timeline and now refuses to move any direction but forward with the group he has, even if taking a step back would mean the club could eventually progress even further in the future.
So bull-headed is Thibodeau, Deveney reports, that he’d be more willing to leave the team entirely than be forced to go through a rebuild.
“No one expects Tom to coach a 25-win or even 35-win team,” a front-office executive told Deveney. “Even if he has to agree to dissolve the contract, they’d do that before they go and trade Butler for draft picks.”
If Minnesota does decide to stick with Thibodeau, a likely scenario with training camp set to begin next week, the most probable Butler trade would yield a somewhat comparable veteran so Thibodeau can continue to work off the Timberwolves’ playoff appearance last season, the reports says.
For Thibodeau, his best-case scenario would be to hold onto Butler and hope the apparent issues that led the four-time all-star to supposedly requesting a trade can be worked out.
“[Thibodeau] has a great relationship with Jimmy, and if he can just get him to give the team a chance, he’s got a shot at defusing this whole thing by Christmas,” an anonymous league GM told Deveney.
By the looks of things at the moment, that would be a Minnesota Christmas miracle.