September 15, 2018, 7:20 pm
A meeting that could have huge ramifications on the future of the franchise is reportedly set for next week. Jon Krawczynski of the Athletic tweeted earlier today that Jimmy Butler has asked to meet with Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden to discuss his future with the franchise.
Jimmy Butler will meet with Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden on Monday to "have honest conversations about the All-Star's future with the team," sources tell @TheAthleticMIN. Story upcoming.
— Jon Krawczynski (@JonKrawczynski) September 15, 2018
This is a major development and it’s anyone’s guess what direction this could take. Reports have simmered all summer that Butler has had trouble getting along with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves’ other two stars. For what it’s worth, Towns has yet to accept the five-year max rookie-scale contract extension the Wolves offered earlier in the summer. He’d be the first player to decline such a contract.
It’s obvious that Butler desires to win and craves a championship, he’s publicly made that known. He’s also in the final year of his contract. On one hand, if Butler doesn’t believe this current core can compete he may look to bolt next summer, or demand some drastic changes if he stays (perhaps shipping Towns and/or Wiggins out in the process).
On the other hand, perhaps Butler just wants to air out the laundry a bit. It seems like the rumors of poor chemistry keep cropping up because all parties are at a standoff and aren’t communicating with each other. This could simply be a way to clear the air. Of course in that scenario Towns and Wiggins should be present in the meeting, and now the rumors will only grow from here.
Whatever the case may be, all signs point to this being a pivotal point for the franchise. It’s no question that Butler helped turn the franchise around after missing the playoffs for thirteen consecutive seasons, but there’s definitely a sense that no matter what the team does it won’t be enough to satisfy Butler’s cravings. Between the perceived immaturity of Towns and Wiggins, the limited roster flexibility and the injuries piling up, Butler might not see a situation where he can achieve his goals.
One key player’s decision this summer may well have been the final nail in the coffin: LeBron James.
When LeBron moved to the Western Conference, reports quickly surfaced that Butler and Kyrie Irving would seek to team up somewhere in the Eastern Conference to fill the gaping hole James left in his wake, with New York being a possible destination. The Lakers whiffed on their efforts to add another superstar next to James and instead opted to preserve cap space for next summer and chase a superstar (or two) when the likes of Butler, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are free agents.
Jimmy will have options next summer, that much is clear. He very well could be meeting with Thibodeau and Layden to gives them a heads up on his plans. It’s a bit late in the summer to demand a trade, but crazier things have happened. It’s clear, though, that if Butler demands a trade or alludes that he’ll leave Minnesota in July, then the team should seek to unload Butler while they can.
If that ends up being the case, there should be a handful of teams that would lineup for him, including the Lakers. The Oklahoma City Thunder showed that acquiring a player via trade can help convincing him to stay long-term, like when they got Paul George and, against all odds, kept him away from Los Angeles.
It’s been a quiet summer on the transaction front for Minnesota this summer, but the rumor mill has been steadily turning since May and now may get out of control.
This report overshadowed the devastating news Justin Patton received today as Krawczynski also noted that Patton has broken his right foot. You can read more about that here.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN chipped in with some details on the meeting in a report of his own, stating that Owner Glen Taylor is having some second-thoughts regarding Thibodeau:
“Owner Glen Taylor has significant concern with the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden — so much so that Taylor considered changes in the offseason, league sources said. Taylor has privately second-guessed his decision to give Thibodeau full control of basketball operations as a part of hiring him as coach, league sources said.”
It’s hard to envision Thibodeau trading Butler, not only because of the deep admiration he has for Jimmy, but also he knows that his job would be in serious jeopardy after the fact. Without Butler around, what is the point of keeping a coach that clearly isn’t working too well with Towns and Wiggins? Thibs was brought on to teach a new wave of players his ‘style’ and turnaround a franchise. He hasn’t been able to reach the young players, though, and continues to undermine them by adding ‘his guys’ to supplant them in the rotation.
Thibodeau will likely do everything in his power to retain Butler, but if he fails it looks more and more like a serious changing of the guard will occur, perhaps before the end of the calendar year.
You can read the full report from Woj here.
Monday morning brought some more information on the Butler situation, this time from Shams Charania.
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) September 17, 2018
Much of this has already been whispered about, but the most interesting tidbit is the power play from Karl-Anthony Towns. Charania states that Towns won’t sign his extension until the Butler situation is resolved. It’s a bit vague, but when you put the pieces together you begin to see the light.
Towns rejecting the extension would be unprecedented for a player in his situation, but he sees an opportunity to seize control of the franchise from Thibodeau and Butler, the two people he’s been budding heads with the most.
As the clip above eloquently puts it, this is turning into a soap opera, although if you’ve been following the Wolves at all in the last year this is anything but surprising.
The meeting allegedly takes place today, look for more info to drip through as the day progresses.
June 5, 2020, 10:31 pmKyrie IrvingPG, Brooklyn Nets
According to Adrian Wojnarowski, Kyrie Irving (right shoulder) could conceivably join his Nets' teammates in Orlando when they return to play later this summer, albeit as an inactive player.
There was really never much of a possibility that Irving would return to action in 2019-20 unless the season got pushed back severely. After the arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder in late February, the Nets tentatively said they expected to have him back in time for preseason workouts in the fall (which will now likely take place in November or later). That still seems like the likely scenario, even given the long pause the league was forced to undergo. Caris LeVert had shown flashes of brilliance again this season after he returned from injury, so he and Spencer Dinwiddie will evidently be shouldering the ball-handling duties when the Nets take the floor in Orlando.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowksi on Twitter
June 5, 2020, 10:09 pmKevin DurantSF, Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant (right Achilles) confirmed on Friday that he will not take the court for the Nets when they return to play in Orlando in late July and early August when they close out the 2019-20 season.
Given the extended pause to the current season due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there were many who believed the Nets could plausibly try to bring back both Durant and Kyrie Irving from their respective injuries in order to make a push for a championship later this summer. Evidently, Durant will remain out of the equation for the Nets as they look to close out the season on a high note. "My season is over," Durant said. The Nets currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and will have to maintain that position in order to avoid the planned play-in bracket to decide the eighth seed after the initial eight final "regular season" games. Durant has never seemed likely to play, even with the pandemic disrupting the season, and it seems as though he won't be playing for the Nets in Orlando. Much crazier things have happened, though.
Source: The Undefeated
June 5, 2020, 9:38 pmKelly Oubre Jr.SF, Phoenix Suns
Kelly Oubre Jr. (torn right meniscus) will be able to take the floor for the Suns when the NBA returns to play in Orlando on July 31, the team's owner Robert Sarver said on Friday.
This is phenomenal news for the Suns, as Oubre had really been having a breakout season for the Suns (18.7 PTS, 6.4 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.3 STL, 0.7 BLK and 1.9 threes per game in 34.5 minutes) prior to going down with a torn meniscus in late February. He was originally expected to miss the rest of the 2019-20 season, but due to the pandemic he has recovered and will evidently be fully functional for a team that currently sits in 13th place in the Western Conference. They will have quite the uphill battle to force their way into the playoff field in August, as there will only be eight regular season games played before the playoffs are set.
Source: Arizona Sports
June 5, 2020, 9:22 pmJonathan IsaacPF, Orlando Magic
The President of Basketball Operations for the Magic, Jeff Weltman, said Friday that the team does not expect Jonathan Isaac (left knee) to return when league play resumes, but that they will also be letting his rehab program dictate his timetable.
Isaac has been sidelined since the beginning of January after a serious injury to his left knee.
He was scheduled to be re-evaluated in 8-10 weeks but the impact of the coronavirus has muddled things up with many players, Isaac included. The Magic don't want to risk Isaac's immediate future, as he is under contract for one more season and is eligible for a qualifying offer prior to the 2021-22 season. With the Magic sitting in eighth place in the East and looking a (potential) fight for the right to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs as the eighth seed in August, the Magic brass may opt to keep Isaac out until the beginning of next season. That seems likely, at least.
Source: 96.9 The Game on Twitter
June 5, 2020, 5:37 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Marc Stein is reporting that the NBPA has agreed to continue negotiations with the league for a 22-team restart to the season.
Stein also noted that not everything is settled at this point, and more items need to be agreed upon before the NBPA is ready to sign and proceed forward with the resumption of games. It sounds like we're still on a path to an agreement, but the NBPA still has a few points to clarify before it is all said and done. Stay tuned.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
June 5, 2020, 5:29 pmLeBron JamesSF, Los Angeles Lakers
Shams Charania is reporting that the NBPA informed players that they will be tested on a nightly basis for COVID-19 and a positive test will result in quarantine for a minimum of seven days.
The resumption of play will also include 2-3 preseason games and a bubble of 1600 total people. Players will not have tracking devices on them but they are expected to stay in the bubble for the entire period. Everything is gradually coming together and the schedule for the return to play is becoming more and more clear for all parties.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
June 5, 2020, 4:34 pmNikola JokicC, Denver Nuggets
According to head coach Mike Malone, Nikola Jokic has been staying in great shape during the lockout.
Jokic has never been known for staying in shape, especially during the offseason, and it will be a legitimate surprise if he returns lighter than he was at the stoppage in play. He started the year on the slower side and was clearly looking behind out of the gate, but he was back to his usual first-round value by the time games came to a stop. He should be ready for action when the lockout comes to an end. His teammate Jamal Murray is claiming that Jokic now has a "little four pack".
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 3:31 pmDejounte MurrayPG, San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs were dealing with injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge, Dejounte Murray, Jakob Poeltl and Lonnie Walker IV before the season was halted, but all four are expected to be "good to go" when the NBA resumes action.
Poeltl (MCL sprain) was dealing with the most significant injury of the bunch, and if he's ready then everyone else will be as well. Aldridge was day-to-day with a shoulder strain, while Murray and his strained calf were the biggest headache for fantasy GMs before the season stopped. Initially given no timetable for return, he's ready to go and will split the PG work with Derrick White as the Spurs try to extend their playoff streak.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 3:26 pmDarius BazleyPF, Oklahoma City Thunder
Darius Bazley has recovered from a right knee bone bruise that he suffered in February.
We're going to say that he's healthy after he was spotted playing pickup games this past week. Bazley was set to be re-evaluated 4-6 weeks after sustaining the injury and is good to go. He's not a lock to receive minutes in the postseason but more depth options never hurt anybody.
Source: The Athletic
June 5, 2020, 3:25 pmAndre RobersonSG, Oklahoma City Thunder
Andre Roberson (left knee) may be able to play in the NBA's eight-game regular season, per The Athletic's Erik Horne.
Roberson has been out since January of 2018 thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon and some subsequent setbacks, but he said back in April that he's past the rehab stage of his recovery. It would be tough to envision the Thunder granting Roberson a big role considering the severity of his injury and the length of his layoff, but there's a chance that the defensive stopper can make some impact for the team down the stretch. Either way, it will be great to see him back on the floor again.
Source: The Athletic