In a move that will likely reshape the course of the NBA and the Timberwolves, guard Jimmy Butler has requested a trade from the team, according to multiple media reports.
Butler, who at times has expressed frustration alongside the Wolves’ two young cornerstones, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, has reportedly made up his mind on his future — and it likely won’t include the Wolves. ESPN reported that Butler’s desired trade destinations are the Knicks, Nets and Clippers.
Butler can become a free agent after next season by opting out of his current contract and would be eligible to sign a five-year deal with the Wolves worth close to $190 million. Butler turned down a four-year, $110 million deal from the Wolves, the maximum extension they were allowed to offer, this offseason.
In a tweet that could be indicative of the friction between Butler and the team’s younger stars, Nick Wiggins, the brother of Andrew Wiggins tweeted “Hallelujah” while quoting a tweet from The Athletic, which first reported Butler’s request for a trade.
The Wolves acquired Butler the night of the 2017 draft along with the No. 16 pick of the draft from the Bulls in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and the No. 7 pick.
The question now is what will the Wolves and coach Tom Thibodeau do? Thibodeau and Butler remain close dating back to Butler’s development under Thibodeau in Chicago, but Wednesday’s news makes it clear Butler doesn’t see his career going further in Minnesota.
Butler remade the Wolves last season and helped them reach the playoffs for the first time since 2004. But instead of the season being one of promise and hope for the direction of the franchise, it disintegrated following the season as reports emerged of Butler’s unhappiness playing with Towns and Wiggins.
If Butler wants to get out of Minnesota to go to a title contender, his list of teams is a curious one. The Nets, Clippers and Knicks missed the playoffs last season and aren’t likely one player away from title contention as other teams around the league are. Butler, instead, is indicating he wants to play in one of the NBA’s two biggest markets, perhaps to expand his personal brand.
Or Butler could be banking on those teams having the salary-cap room and pull to add another star next offseason, like Kyrie Irving, someone Butler reportedly would like to play alongside. The two won a gold medal together for Team USA at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.