The Timberwolves sold out Target Center a franchise record 18 times last season. This season, they're 30th, good for dead last in NBA attendance figures.
Minnesota is averaging 14,948 fans through five home games, which is just barely ahead of 2017's average and around 2,000 fewer than last year's average of 17,056 fans.
It's early, but the sparse crowds are undoubtedly a reflection of how fans feel about the way the state of the franchise, which has crumbled in the wake of Jimmy Butler's trade request.
Butler has effectively decided to play when he wants to play, sitting out games against division foes because of "general soreness" and "precautionary rest," all while owner Glen Taylor repeatedly says he'll grant Butler's request by trading when the Wolves receive an appropriate offer.
"The damage that is being inflicted from a global standpoint on this franchise is almost immeasurable right now," said Jon Krawczynski on his Talk Hoops podcast with Jim Souhan.
Krawczynski pointed out that Fox Sports North's broadcast of Sunday's game between the Wolves and Trail Blazers featured a constant stream of ticket promotions, including buy one get one free ticket offers that Krawczynski says the Wolves can't give away right now.
Minnesota didn't even sell out for the home opener against Kevin Love and the Cavaliers, falling just short. They came just shy of a sellout when LeBron James and the Lakers were in town, but there were nearly as many empty seats as filled when the Pacers and Jazz visited.
- Cavaliers: 19,356 (98 percent)
- Pacers: 10,371 (54 percent)
- Bucks: 16,334 (84 percent)
- Lakers: 18,978 (98 percent)
- Jazz: 10,079 (52 percent)
In fairness, the Jazz game fell on Halloween. Even so, barely eclipsing 10,000 fans for Ricky Rubio's return is concerning. Of course, Butler didn't play in that game because he was "sore."
Would you buy a ticket to a future Wolves game knowing there's a chance Butler might not feel like playing that night?