The Minnesota Timberwolves may be at a crossroads in their organizational future. After reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2005, it could all come crashing down almost immediately.
Star player Jimmy Butler will be meeting with Wolves officials, namely head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, on Monday as was reported by The Athletic last week. According to Shams Charania, this will be a “last-ditch” effort for the Wolves to convince Butler he has a future in the Twin Cities.
Meanwhile, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, rival executives believe Butler will be traded before the deadline this season. With Butler’s concerns being the need to contend for a title – the Wolves lost in the first round of the playoffs last season and have had a disappointing offseason – it has many wondering if the Lakers are a possibility.
Of note, according to Charania, Wolves star Karl-Anthony Towns will not sign his rookie extension until the Butler situation is resolved meaning there is at least some possibility that the Wolves part ways with the one-year Minnesotan before the season even starts. That would effectively take the Lakers out of the race as their veteran contracts are not tradeable until December, at the earliest and they have no big salaries to offset Butler’s.
Even if Butler is traded at the deadline, it seems unlikely that the Lakers will be seriously involved. The team held firm on demands from the Spurs while negotiating on a Kawhi Leonard trade so it seems evident that the front office thinks highly of its young core and wants to keep it as long as possible.
If the Lakers wait until the offseason, they will have ample cap space to sign one star free agent, be it Butler, Leonard or someone else. Both Butler and Leonard have been reported as at least intrigued by the idea of playing with LeBron James in LA, giving the purple and gold some potential options even if it means not reaching their full potential this season.