Welcome to the Wednesday edition of The Cooler, where it’s almost finally time to watch the local NBA team play a game. Let’s get to it:
*Sid Hartman was *probably* the only 98-year-old member of the sports media to get a scoop Tuesday when he got Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, on the record about several subjects related to the team and Jimmy Butler.
Taylor confirmed to Sid that the Wolves are actively working to trade Butler, saying: “Yes. I think [Butler has] made it very clear that he would not re-sign with us at the end of the year and therefore it is in our interest to get a trade so that we can get a player or two to replace him that helps our team.”
When asked if Tom Thibodeau is coaching for his job, Taylor said: “No, no, the only thing now is that we are starting to play games and I am asking him to concentrate on coaching.”
Along the lines of the last part is an interesting — though maybe not surprising given the timing — bit of information in which Taylor says more than once that GM Scott Layden, not Thibodeau, will be handling the day-to-day calls with other teams regarding a Butler trade.
“What I said to him in the meantime is our GM, Scott Layden, will be talking to other teams to see if there is a trade that works,” Taylor said when asked what he and Butler talked about in a recent meeting. Later, Taylor added: “GM Scott Layden will help to see if any trades are available.”
This makes sense because Thibodeau will have more than enough to keep him busy as the head coach with the season starting Wednesday (particularly given that the Wolves are playing catch-up with their chemistry after Butler was absent almost all of training camp). Butif there has been a sense that Thibodeau, in his role as president of basketball operations, was in charge of this deal throughout camp, that sense has changed now.
One other item of note: Taylor was asked if the Wolves would be able to give Butler the max contract (five years, $190 million) he covets next offseason if Butler had wanted to stay.
“We would have to make some changes on our team in order to keep Jimmy,” Taylor said.
That’s vague, but it goes back to the notion brought up when Butler was acquired last year that the Wolves — assuming they maxed out Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, which they did — would be in a tough spot if they wanted to have three max players.
*Butler posted on Instagram on Wednesday about being excited for the season to start, which I’m sure is genuine.
I had to laugh, though, when Butler referred to the offseason and the “so called ‘drama'” of it.
In Butler’s choreographed ESPN interview last week, he chided people in the Wolves organization for their lack of honesty. In this case, Butler needs to be honest. It wasn’t so-called drama. It was drama. It still is drama. And he’s driving it.
*The Gophers haven’t won a Big Ten football game yet this year, but Nebraska hasn’t won a football game of any kind this year. So it’s maybe a little surprising the Huskers are favored by four points as of now in Saturday’s game vs. Minnesota in Lincoln. Those are points earned on brand reputation only at this point.