Jamal Crawford declined his player option. He is leaving the Timberwolves.

An ESPN report noted that Wolves star Jimmy Butler wanted Crawford to remain.

This is the first important move of an offseason that could set the Wolves up as winners, or put them on the precipice of regression.

Here are the questions raised by Crawford's departure:

-Can Tom Thibodeau attract quality bench players? He signed Cole Aldrich, then didn't play him. He signed Jamal Crawford, then didn't play him as much as Crawford wanted or expected. Thibs plays his starters massive minutes. Even if you don't disagree with that strategy, it makes attracting quality bench players in free agency difficult. Crawford is well-liked and well-networked around the NBA. If he tells players they wouldn't enjoy playing for Thibs in Minnesota, that's a blow.

-If Thibs can't build a strong bench, does that make Butler less likely to re-sign with the Wolves?

-Does this make it more likely that the Wolves will pursue a trade - whether of Andrew Wiggins, their first-round pick, or some combination of assets? The Wolves are even more desperately in need of three-point shooting and bench scoring now, and don't have enough cap space to spend on high-profile free agents.

-Does this make it more likely that the Wolves invest in Derrick Rose?

This is the NBA. It's about personalities and relationships. Given Thibs' reputation, Butler may have to become the Wolves' top ambassador and recruiter.


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