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Wolves owner Taylor: Butler 'had an agenda' team had to work around

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor no longer has the Jimmy Butler trade issue to deal with after Minnesota officially dealt him to the Philadelphia 76ers days ago. Throughout the Butler trade saga, Taylor kept up with comments from his players in the media and a watchful eye on how his team was faring with Butler around.

Taylor and Butler reportedly came to an agreement early on in the trade chatter that came down to the Wolves continuing to look for trades for Butler while Butler played up to his usual standards. A 4-9 start for Minnesota, however, made it clear the team and Butler needed to move on from each other.

In an interview with Chris Hine of Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Taylor said that although the Wolves vowed to not let Butler’s situation affect their play, it clearly did to him.

“It just appeared that they weren’t working together as a team or as a unit the way that they should’ve. I can’t exactly answer why,” Taylor told the newspaper. “The only thing that was different that we had was Jimmy’s position of leaving the team. Maybe that was affecting guys more than they even knew themselves.”

He said the Wolves’ 0-5 start on the road didn’t lead to Butler’s trade, but that the trade might have happened around when it did anyway because of an agreement he, the coaching staff and Butler had to play at least 10 games. After that, they would evaluate where the Wolves were as well as gauge the temperature league-wide relative to making a trade for Butler.

“We have to play at least 10 games and then we would see which teams were meeting their goals, which teams weren’t and the teams that weren’t we thought we would have a better chance to negotiate,” Taylor said. “We were preparing ourselves to do this anyway. But certainly, I guess if we would’ve won all five games out there, it might have been different.

“I don’t think it was all under our control. I wish it would’ve been more under our control, but I think we saw Jimmy had an agenda and we had to work around that.”

Taylor said he saw issues in the fourth quarter of games for the Wolves and felt the situation was potentially weighing on younger players like Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He felt the Wolves’ youngsters were “positive to Jimmy” and in working hard, but saw issues late in games.

“The only thing I can relate back is they probably were under pressure they didn’t realize as young people. … It’s a negative environment,” Taylor told the newspaper.

After landing Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round draft from the Sixers, the Wolves have the kind of immediate roster help coach and team president Tom Thibodeau sought in potential Butler deals.

Still, Taylor wouldn’t say how the trade would affect Thibodeau’s job status going forward.

“He’ll be evaluated on how we go forward.” Taylor told the Star-Tribune. “The truth is, we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole, so it’s going to be harder than it would be if it was a true start of a season. We’re just going to have to make that up. That’s how I’m going to do it.

“Saying, ‘OK, you now have your team. We made the trades. These are guys that you like and let’s see what we can do.’ Now, I think we all know that it’s a little difficult. If you’d had [training camp], the couple weeks before the season, had these guys here, it’d be better than the way it is. But we have to deal with what we have and move ahead.”