As the team practiced for the first time Tuesday, Timberwolves coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau reiterated he and General Manager Scott Layden are working to honor the trade request Jimmy Butler made to Thibodeau last week.
“We’ll look at what’s out there and if something is good for us that’s what we want to do,” Thibodeau said Tuesday. “We’re going to honor his request but we’re not going to do a bad deal. I think we made that clear [Monday].”
But conflicting information has surfaced regarding the Wolves’ willingness to deal Butler, a source told the Star Tribune.
Thibodeau said many times during media day Monday that the team is searching for the best deal possible for Butler.
Thibodeau met with Butler on Monday to try again and convince Butler to stay, but the All-Star guard remained steadfast in his desire to leave, according to a report from ESPN. Thibodeau on Tuesday declined to discuss what he told Butler on Monday.
A source said Thibodeau and Layden have been reluctant to make quick progress on trade talks involving Butler.
Teams have lobbied owner Glen Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, in an attempt to facilitate a deal, according to the ESPN report. The report did say Layden, who is handling the trade calls, has moved on to asking for stars, starters and draft picks for Butler.
A source said Taylor has been in regular contact with Butler’s camp, assuring them that the team is working toward completing a deal.
Taylor has referred teams to go through Layden and Thibodeau for any trade requests and on Saturday, Taylor spoke with Thibodeau and Layden to tell them the organization should try to complete a deal for Butler quickly.
These stances could be posturing on the part of the Wolves or on the part of rival teams to maximize leverage. Other teams might want to paint the picture of dysfunction in the Wolves organization in order to make them more desperate to accept a bad deal.
Thibodeau and Layden might be slow playing their responses in order to get teams to up their offers and buy more time for a trade market to develop in a tricky time just before the season begins.
Layden disputed that notion at Monday’s media day, saying the timing of the request didn’t dampen the kind of trade market that exists for Butler.
Thibodeau said nothing changed from Monday.
“I’m going to reiterate that we’re trying to make the best deal for the Timberwolves,” Thibodeau said. “That’s what we have to look after. That’s what my job is. That’s what Scott’s job is and obviously a move of this magnitude, Glen is involved with it too just as he was with [Karl-Anthony Towns’ extension] because those are major decisions.”
Butler remained in the Twin Cities on Tuesday and worked out at a local gym. On Monday, he played a pickup basketball game in Minneapolis.
The official line is that Butler needs a week to continue rehabilitating his right wrist after Butler had surgery on the wrist in July. Thibodeau said he expects Butler back on the team after a week if the Wolves have not dealt him by then.