As if last month's reports about Karl-Anthony Towns being unhappy with the Timberwolves weren't enough, Sean Deveney of Sporting News fanned the flames Friday with a report that makes Minnesota's future even murkier.
Before we get to the thick of the report, Deveney noted 4-5 interesting notes in his extensive breakdown of Minnesota's offseason. He says:
- Jimmy Butler is unsure if he wants to play long term with Andrew Wiggins.
- Tyus Jones almost requested a trade but was told he'll get more playing time.
- Tom Thibodeau would like to bring back Derrick Rose.
- Minnesota is trying to trade Gorgui Dieng.
- It's unlikely that the Wolves will be able to retain Nemanja Bjelica.
Now, on the Butler fiasco with Wiggins, Deveney writes:
"Sources familiar with the situation told Sporting News that Butler is uncertain about playing with Wiggins — Butler had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor. Thibodeau has had similar problems with Wiggins in the past, too, and he had some hope that bringing a tough-minded veteran like Butler into the locker room would spur Wiggins to improve. It didn’t."
Wiggins is entering the first year of his five-year, $146 million contract. Butler will be eligible for free agency next summer, and with Towns also due for a max extension, Minnesota is in a difficult situation both financially and, it would seem, internally.
Trading Wiggins is difficult because of his huge contract. Of course, dreamers have suggested the Wolves could send Wiggins to the Spurs for a Kawhi Leonard, which seems awesome until you read ESPN's Friday report that Leonard wants to leave the Spurs and play in Los Angeles.
If Leonard doesn't want to play in San Antonio, and prefers L.A., why in the world would he ever consider playing in Minnesota? Wiggins for Leonard seems like more of a pipe dream now than it originally did.
In reality, Minnesota could be facing a situation where they have to choose between competing for a deeper playoff run with Butler in 2018-19 or trading Butler during the season knowing they could lose him for nothing next summer anyway.
It's a horrible situation to be in, but remember: if Butler bolts as a free agent, the Wolves are left with Justin Patton while the pieces they gave up to get Butler – Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft, Lauri Markkanen – would be entering their primes in Chicago.
All of that for a two-year rental on Butler would be disastrous unless the Wolves win a title or extend Butler long term.