Timberwolves president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed Monday that All-Star Jimmy Butler has requested a trade.
Thibodeau said Butler made the trade request last week, and the Wolves will do their best to honor the request but "we're not going to be pressured into making a bad deal."
"That's not the first time a player has made that type of request," Thibodeau said, speaking alongside general manager Scott Layden during the team's media day. "If something's good for us then we're interested in doing it. If not, then we're ready to move forward the other way."
Another key point Thibodeau made was saying he was up front with Butler that the Wolves might trade him to a team that he's not all that interested in playing for long term, but so long as it's best for the Wolves, he'll do it.
Butler skips media day but is in Minneapolis
Butler is in Minneapolis but is not taking part in media day, nor is he expected to be on the floor with teammates when training camp begins on Tuesday.
"He came in and did his physical," Thibodeau said of Butler. "He still needs a little time to do some rehab and some conditioning, so he's probably a week away."
Butler underwent a minor procedure on his right hand over the summer and that's likely what Thibodeau was referring to, although it also could be an excuse to keep Butler away from the team while they work out a trade.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Sunday that Wolves owner Glen Taylor hopes to have a trade involving Butler completed by Tuesday in order to keep the humiliation factor to a minimum.
Minnesota has been on the the receiving end of intense scrutiny since Butler requested the trade a week ago Tuesday, with fuel for laughs provided by Nick Wiggins, the older brother of Andrew Wiggins, show tweeted "Hallelujah" at the news of Butler requesting a trade. The tweet served as a confirmation to speculation about Butler and Wiggins' strained relationship.
"Conflict in the NBA, it's not unusual. Every team has it," Thibodeau said, adding that Butler's impact on the court – helping Minnesota boost its win total by 16 in a year's time – outweighed any perceived team chemistry issues.
"You look more at the actions. There's many people in this league that say all the right things and never do any of the right things," said Thibodeau. "To me, the impact that he had was great. To see the building sold out, to see the interest in the team, to see it work on the floor. We won 47 games and Jimmy missed 23 or 25 games."
Thibodeau, Layden send a very clear message
NBA teams interested in trading for Butler certainly got the point Thibodeau and Layden made many times during their 20+ minutes at the podium, that Butler is a top 10 player in the NBA, and the asking price is high.
"We know how Jimmy is valued in the league. If you're a top 10 player there's going to be interest. We're not going to make a bad deal," Thibodeau said.
Layden added: "When you have a player like Jimmy, who is clearly a top 10 player, All-NBA player, the phone is ringing. It's just the nature of what competitive teams want. So we're looking forward to seeing what is available and then just go from there."
Thibodeau not worried about his reputation
Ultimately, Thibodeau is disappointed that Butler wants to be traded, but he stands by the original decision to trade Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick in last year's draft (Lauri Markkanen) to the Bulls to get him.
"We thought he fit. We thought he would help change what we needed to change, so I thought it was a great deal for us," Thibodeau said. "We knew where he was in terms of his contract, and we thought we'd have an opportunity to sign him and it didn't work out."
Thibodeau also maintains that he doesn't think the reported problems in the Wolves' locker room will undermine his ability to coach and lead the franchise.
"Not at all. I never worry about that. The important thing is to understand where we were and how we had to change our direction. When you go through that many lottery seasons, to win 47 games, to get to the playoffs, to see the excitement in the building, to see the excitement in the players, I think it worked out the way we thought it would.
"I love coaching, I love my job. Whether it's praise or criticism, I never worry about it."