Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor is involved in Jimmy Butler trade talks and is motivated to get a deal done soon, a league source told the Star Tribune on Saturday.
Butler is still a member of the Timberwolves, three days after making his request of a trade to coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau.
Thibodeau does not want to trade Butler and has told general manager Scott Layden to shut down talks before other teams can make offers, the source said. But Taylor is superseding management in trade talks in an effort to facilitate a trade.
Taylor, who was in New York at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting Friday, also owns the Star Tribune. He has declined comment on Butler since news of his trade request broke Wednesday.
Taylor has helped facilitate major trades in the past, including deals involving Kevin Garnett and Kevin Love.
The Wolves are set to host media day Monday -- where players and Thibodeau are expected to be available for interviews -- and training camp opens Tuesday. It's unclear if Butler will report for media day or the start of camp if he remains with the team.
Butler, 29, led the way for a Wolves team that improved from 31 to 47 wins and made the playoffs for the first time since 2004. But he also missed 23 games last season -- the bulk of which came after he injured his knee late in the year.
The Wolves entered the offseason hoping to build on that season, with Butler as a key component. But reports of his unhappiness with the organization persisted throughout the summer, culminating with his trade request.
The source said Wednesday's meeting was not the first time Butler had told Thibodeau he wanted out of the organization.
Butler would be hard to replace in the short-term, but failing to trade him could hurt in the long term.
Taylor's willingness to trade Butler indicates he is taking a longer view of the Wolves' roster.
The apparent difference in philosophy between Taylor and Thibodeau could have reverberations throughout the organization, and the ultimate outcome of the Butler situation could provide clues about the team's future direction.
Butler has given the Wolves a list of three teams to whom he wishes to be traded — the Clippers, Nets and Knicks.
Butler is eligible to sign a five-year contract worth up to $190 million after this season if he remains with the Wolves or is traded. If the Wolves keep him and Butler decides to sign elsewhere after this season, the best he can receive is a four-year, $141 million deal.
Butler’s contract was eligible to be renegotiated starting July 9. That was the three-year anniversary of Butler signing his last deal in Chicago, and salary rules dictate contracts of four or more years can be renegotiated at that point.
Based on an analysis of the Wolves’ salary cap, they would have needed to trim about $30 million from their existing payroll to bump Butler up to the maximum salary he is eligible for this season — which would have enabled them to give him a five-year, $177.2 million extension this summer.
The Wolves did not renegotiate Butler’s deal and instead offered Butler a four-year, $110 million extension, which he turned down.
It has been reported that Butler is unhappy the Wolves were unwilling to work out a more lucrative deal this summer, but a source from Butler’s camp refuted that notion in a Chicago Sun-Times report that reaffirmed the reason for his trade request is his unhappiness with young Wolves cornerstones Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks similarly isn’t buying money as a reason for Butler’s unhappiness. Not only would an extension this summer mean the Wolves would have to part with key players, but also they can offer Butler more money next summer — five years and $190 million.
“I don’t think that was a concession” made when the Wolves traded for Butler, said Marks, who now works for ESPN, “because the goal was to be good. The renegotiation, though he was eligible, would have damaged the team.”
The Wolves acquired Butler on the night of the draft in June 2017, sending young guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn and the No. 7 pick to the Bulls in exchange for Butler and the No. 16 pick.
It's unclear what the Wolves would be able to get in return for him, but it will be challenging for the Wolves to generate a trade market this close to the start of the season.
“The more days go on, the more leverage you lose,” Marks said. “You get to the trade deadline you’re going to get 50 cents on the dollar. … For Minnesota, if you are going to put him out there and there is no sense they are entertaining any offers, you are going to have to get a bidding war, but it’s hard because those three teams [Nets, Knicks and Clippers] can just sign him with cap space [in the offseason].”
Star Tribune staff writer Michael Rand contributed to this report.