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Wolves’ Taylor, Thibodeau said to be unified on plan to trade Butler

September 22, 2018

As the Timberwolves prepare to open training camp Tuesday, they are working to make a deal involving Jimmy Butler, the All-Star who requested a trade this week.

A source close to the negotiations told the Star Tribune on Saturday that owner Glen Taylor and Tom Thibodeau, the head coach and president of basketball operations, are unified on working to move Butler information that contradicts previous reports that indicated the two were at odds.

According to the source, Taylor, who also owns the Star Tribune, is referring teams interested in making a trade to work through Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden. It was previously reported that Taylor is running negotiations because he favored a trade while Thibodeau was resistant to the idea, but the source said that is not the case.

The Wolves would like to get a deal done quickly, though the timing of Butlers request so close to the start of the season makes things complicated.

But Butlers request on Tuesday at a meeting in Los Angeles was also not the first time Butler informed Thibodeau of his desire to continue his career elsewhere, another source close to the situation said.

Butler has given the Wolves a list of three teams he would like to play for the Nets, Clippers and Knicks. But Butler is open to going to and signing a new deal with another team depending on how willing they are to acquire him and get a deal done.

Butler can become a free agent in July by opting out of his current deal and would like to sign a maximum five-year deal worth $190 million with a new team. If he has to play out the season with the Wolves, the most a new team can offer him is a four-year, $141 million deal.

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. Minnesota was 37-22 when he played and 10-13 when he was out.

The Wolves entered the offseason hoping to build on that season, with Butler as a key component. Dealing him would be hard for the Wolves to swallow in the short term, and it may mean the difference between missing and making the playoffs in a competitive Western Conference. But failing to deal Butler when he has assured the Wolves he will walk in free agency would hamper the Wolves in the long term.

Butlers 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 Butlers deal and instead offered Butler a four-year, $110 million extension, which he turned down. Butler has had a strained relationship with the Timberwolves young stars, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, and a source said his frustration with those two players not the Wolves unwillingness to renegotiate his deal is the motivating factor behind his request to leave Minnesota.

Its unclear what the Wolves would be able to get in return for Butler if they trade him, but it could be challenging for the Wolves to generate a trade market this close to the start of the season.

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.

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