This has been a very interesting week for the Minnesota Timberwolves. We’re all mostly aware of the story, but for those who aren’t, I’ll give you the cliff notes version:
-Jimmy Butler knows that he is valuable
-Jimmy Butler is hard to deal with
-Jimmy Butler plays for an incompetent coach
-Jimmy Butler acts like a fool at practice
-Jimmy Butler immediately goes on ESPN with Rachel Nichols to discuss his actions
-Karl Anthony Towns continues to be trapped in a prison of misery
-Team rallies around Jimmy Butler
Seems to be a commonality among these things, huh?
Adrian Wojnarowski, at ESPN, set off the firestorm with one of his common “Woj bombs”:
“All-Star Jimmy Butler participated in Minnesota’s practice, a session that included him verbally challenging teammates, coaches and front office, league sources told ESPN. Butler was vociferous and emotional at times, targeting Thibodeau/Layden/Towns/Wiggins.”
The internet went crazy and things became more and more tense at practice. Woj tweeted further:
“At one point in a scrimmage, sources said, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, “You (bleeping) need me. You can’t win without me.” Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way. Jimmy’s back.”
Practice played out just about as awkwardly as you’d think it would, but something really odd happened right afterwards. Within the hour of these outbursts and freak outs at practice, ESPN already had a sit down interview with Butler to explain his behavior….
The timing is just very coincidental, if you really think about it. The T-Wolves were at camp and Rachel Nichols just so happens to be having coffee at the Starbucks just down the street? And a whole camera crew is ready to shoot it? It just feels staged.
But I’ll tell you one thing: I’m all for it. Jimmy Butler has created a circus, and the funny part about it all is that its kind of working. It has a two prong effect:
-It allows Butler to gather the locker room, put them on his back and rally behind him
-He exposes Tom Thibodeau for the fraud that he truly is
The one guy who ends up getting the crap end of the stick is Karl Anthony Towns. We have disagreements on the basketball show pretty frequently about KAT, but overall, he is a talented player who just signed a max extension with the understanding that he is “the guy”. (However, if you’re really “the guy” you would stand up and take it from Jimmy Butler, but, what do I know?)
Meanwhile, Tom Thibodeau, known locker room culture killer, stands on the sidelines, with his hands on his hips, not saying a damn word while all of this is going on. Its his team. Take control of the situation and tell him to leave, if its behavior that is detrimental to the team. If Mike Brown can do it to Andrew Bynum then Thibs can certainly tell a guy to leave practice.
But, it does seem to be selling the locker room on a different way of looking at what they’re doing.
I’ll tell you one thing: Thibs is rolling the dice on this strategy because he doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of choice. If Butler is truly successful in putting this team together for a season like it should be having with the amount of talent on the roster, then Thibs ends up looking like an absolute ass, since he hasn’t been able to do that in the several years that he’s been in town. He’s done nothing but run that team in to the ground and make it impossible for an extremely impressive roster to be successful in shot creation.
This whole situation definitely got away from the T-Wolves and now they have no choice but to ride or die. And Tom Thibodeau will be the captain that goes down with the ship