A meeting between Jimmy Butler and head coach Tom Thibodeau was set to take place today (Monday), according to multiple reports.
The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski was the first to report the scheduled meeting, and ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski cofirmed it by saying the meeting "is expected to set the tone for Butler's final season under contract -- and his impending free agency in July."
In other words, Butler is expected to communicate to Thibodeau what he wants in his future. The Athletic's Shams Charania says Butler has "begun to seriously contemplate his future with the franchise."
Charania called it a "last ditch meeting" for the Timberwolves to essentially learn if Butler wants to play in Minnesota this year and beyond. Based on that, it's no inconceivable to speculate the Butler could ask to be traded before the season begins.
Butler has been the center for drama this summer with countless reports indicating his relationship with young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are strained.
According to Charania, Towns doesn't plan to sign his rookie extension with the Timberwolves until the situation with Butler is resolved. What exactly that means is anybody's guess.
A report months ago from Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times said Butler is not interested in staying with the Wolves beyond the upcoming season and that he'd like to team up with Kyrie Irving with a team in the Eastern Conference, possibly the Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks.
Meanwhile, the dysfunction at Target Center and Mayo Clinic Square in Minneapolis appears much deeper than strained relationships between star players. Within Wojnarowski's report is a note that team owner Glen Taylor considering firing Thibodeau this summer.
"Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden -- so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said."
Jamal Crawford, in a way, also confirmed the team's internal problems when he joined a Bleacher Report podcast and said: "For me, it just wasn’t a happy environment. It just wasn’t happy.
Crawford declined his player option to return to the Wolves and is now a free agent, but the 2018-19 season in Minnesota looks to be filled with drama so long as Butler remains without a contract extension.
The Wolves could be put in a terrible situation where they have to decide whether to compete for a playoff spot or trade Butler before the February deadline. If they hold onto him all season they could risk losing him for nothing in free agency.
If he does leave via free agency, the Wolves will have essentially traded Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in the 2017 draft (Lauri Markannen) for two years of Butler and Justin Patton, who hasn't been able to stay healthy.