All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler is reportedly seeking a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Per The Athletic's Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski, Butler has given the Timberwolves a list of one to three teams with which he is open to signing a contract extension. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reports the Brooklyn Nets, LA Clippers, New York Knicks are on Butler's list of preferred trade destinations, with the Clippers looming as his favorite landing spot. Minnesota currently has no interest in trading him, Wojnarowski reports.
In addition, Butler may have given the Wolves a preferred date by which he'd like to be traded, reports Wojnarowski:
Butler told Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota's president of basketball operations and coach, that he would like to be traded before reporting for Timberwolves media day on Monday and prefers the possibility of the Clippers -- as well as the New York Knicks, league sources said. Butler told the Timberwolves that he planned to leave the franchise in free agency next summer, sources said.
The Brooklyn Nets' ability to sign two max free agents in the summer will keep them in consideration for Butler, but he has prioritized the Clippers and Knicks over them, league sources said.
Thibodeau's initial reaction to the trade request was that he wanted to win now, and trading Butler would almost assuredly bring back a package that would diminish the Timberwolves' chances in the short term, league sources said.
The Star Tribune's Chris Hine reports that Wolves owner Glen Taylor would not comment on Butler's trade request when reached on Wednesday. Additionally, Hine reports that neither Butler's agent Bernie Lee nor Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau were available for comment on the topic, either.
Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the Timberwolves, touching off a crisis for Tom Thibodeau and Minnesota less than a week before training camp starts, league sources told The Athletic.
Butler and Thibodeau met on Tuesday in Los Angeles to discuss his situation, according to multiple sources. Over the last several weeks, Butler began to seriously contemplate his future with the team and a potential trade request, league sources said. It was in that meeting that Butler expressed a desire to be traded, telling Thibodeau that he does not intend to sign a long-term extension with the Wolves next summer. He has provided a list of one to three teams with which he would be open to signing a long-term deal, sources said.
Thibodeau was initially resistant to the idea, according to sources, but Butler is determined to find a new home. The Timberwolves are scheduled to have media day on Monday and their first training camp practice on Tuesday, so the clock is ticking.
Butler holds a player option on his contract next season, but it is widely expected he will opt out and join a 2019 free-agent market that many expect to be robust. In addition, Minnesota's All-Star big man, Karl-Anthony Towns, is in the final year of his contract. Towns can sign a contract extension by Oct. 15 or else, he, too, could enter the free-agent pool next summer.
Reports circulated in the offseason that Butler was frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Next season, Wiggins will begin playing on his maximum contract in 2018-19, with a $25 million-plus salary that will account for more than 20 percent of the team’s cap and push the Timberwolves close to the luxury tax threshold.
However, Krawczynski reports that Butler's decision to request a trade "had little if anything to do" with Towns and Wiggins and centered more on contractual matters.
Butler posted on Twitter Monday night that he was set to meet with Timberwolves general manager Scott Layden and Thibodeau on Tuesday to discuss his future with the team.
"Exactly why people need to stop believing what you see on the internet," Butler wrote on Twitter. "I didn’t have no damn meeting today ... its tomorrow ... I wonder what else people write and people believe hmmm ..."
Wojnarowski reported Tuesday that Thibodeau was en route to Los Angeles yesterday to meet with Butler. Originally, the sides had planned to meet in Minneapolis, but that changed.
The Timberwolves acquired Butler from Chicago in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen during the 2017 offseason. The former 30th overall pick helped propel the young Timberwolves to a 47-35 season while earning his fourth consecutive All-Star berth. The Wolves made the playoffs, ending a 14-year drought for the franchise, but they lost 4-1 to the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the first round.
Overall, Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and 2.0 steals per game on his way to All-NBA Third Team and All-Defensive Second Team honors. In late June, Thibodeau said he was comfortable if Butler played the upcoming season without an extension in place, as several of the league’s stars did in 2017-18.
“Every day we work at it. We know how important he is, and we feel he’s one of the best players in the league,” Thibodeau said then. “I know he loves living here. The winning is important to him, I know.”
Butler had an elective surgical procedure on his right hand and missed Team USA's summer practice in Las Vegas. Training camp begins on Sept. 25, with Media Day on the 24th.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.