On The Prowl's Dan Slaubaugh and Seth Toupal discuss the mayhem in Minnesota.
Dan: Jimmy Butler is still on the Wolves... Hahahaha... I need a drink (anyone that knows me personally knows that it takes a good amount for me to get to that point). What’s happened over the last few days is, as The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski recently tweeted, “just a disaster."
Seth: I’ve been a Timberwolves fan a long time. I can NEVER remember a single time where the franchise was as volatile and dysfunctional as it is right now. That includes the Kevin Garnett trade, but that doesn’t even hold a candle to this absolute nightmare. So, I too, will be having a drink.
Dan: There's a ton to unpack here, but my main problem throughout the entire process has been that Karl-Anthony Towns is getting the most heat from Butler. Yeah, that's right; the 22-year old transcendent center and most important person in the organization is getting called out when he has exceeded expectations in almost every way going into his fourth year in the league (obviously he still has a ways to go defensively). Regarding Andrew Wiggins, he deserves all the blame. I won’t back him up. But Towns does not deserve this much blow, and he's the one Jimmy's pointing fingers towards, rather than Tom Thibodeau -- who’s turned a manageable situation (Jimmy voiced his concerns to Thibs four days after last season ended) into a circus show (he literally pointed at the franchise's GM and said "You [bleeping] need me. You can't win without me."), due to his inability to address problems. While Butler may be correct on some fronts, there was probably a better way to let your emotions out than showing up (late) to practice and acting like you're still "the man" after skipping training camp and the first four preseason games. The worst thing is the Timberwolves (Thibs and Layden) were warned Butler would go HAM at practice and still sat idly by as it unfolded.
Seth: It is a triangle of dysfunction. Think about this; We have a star (I refuse to call him a superstar. Superstars don’t do this.) who wants out and, as a result, is throwing an absolutely mind-numbing tantrum, giving CALCULATED (it was 100 percent calculated what he did with ESPN) interviews with national media. We have a coach who is just sitting back and allowing it to happen because he appears to have 100 percent checked out. He is delusional for thinking that Butler would come back, but he also thinks that if anyone can convince him to come back, it would be him. Overall, I’m absolutely stunned that he would just sit back and let the whole thing happen. He just sat back and said nothing. What coach does that? What coach just allows a player to come in and take control of an entire practice? A coach that has lost the team, that’s who.
Oh and Glen Taylor? Feel free to say ANYTHING when you feel like getting involved. IF that ever happens.
Dan: So we are both clearly upset with both Butler and Thibodeau but I definitely think we are more upset at Thibodeau for letting it get this far. Ignoring Towns this summer, refusing to trade Butler when Butler has made it clear he’s good as gone after the season, and letting Jimmy (a player that has quit on his team) walk into the gym and go at their team’s franchise player are all fireable offenses. Yet, he’s still employed. Jimmy was right about a lot of things in his ESPN interview with Rachel Nichols, but he (and Thibs) have created a hostile work environment that would be difficult for anyone to succeed in.
Seth: I keep going back to Butler once he left Chicago. We looked at that front office as being just a disaster: "HOW COULD THEY ALLOW HIM TO LEAVE?" Now we look at it and I’m sure it got to the same situation there as it has here. Except that they actually fired Tom Thibodeau lol!
Dan: Absolutely. What I want to do next is break down the situation piece by piece, and why I’m for Towns and Wiggins here:
Seth: Thibs just drives me nuts. It is clear his method of screaming at everyone every second doesn’t work. Yet instead of doing something about it, and adapting to it, he just keeps trying to make the same thing (not) work. Good coaches adapt to the players they have, instead of adapting the players they have to them. Now, the big question:
What do we want Glen to do to fix all of this?
I, for one, would love to see him simply make some sort of statement. Come out against Butler’s behavior. Say that the situation will be handled in-house. Instead of just leaving everyone in the dark and letting Butler’s staged interview do all of the talking. The silence is deafening, but not surprised, considering that KEVIN GARNETT STILL HASN’T HAD HIS JERSEY RETIRED. How is it even possible that our franchise player still hasn’t returned since he retired. Oh wait, dysfunction is how. Every single possible thing that could have been blundered has been on Glen’s watch. At least let the fans know you hear their anguish instead of just saying “No comment.” He has the power to fire Thibs and Layden. At this point, it couldn’t be any more of a disaster if he did it like five days before the season started. Right?
Dan: Correct. I keep going back to what Canis Hoopus’s John Meyer said yesterday. “Thibs lost all of his remaining credibility today and no longer possesses the authority or leadership required of his position. We can focus on what Butler did at practice, or we can talk about what really matters: A strong leader would’ve never let this happen under their watch.”
Seth: Greg Popovich would never let this happen. Steve Kerr would never let this happen. Brad Stevens would never let this happen. Then again they would never have to worry about it happening in the first place. This isn’t to say teams don’t have issues during the season. Look at Golden State last year. Arguably their most difficult season in the last few years. They had to deal with injuries and finally caving to the pressure of all of those wins. But they were able to handle everything and still win a title. Things happen during the season; no one is going to get along the whole year. But other teams appear able to overcome adversity. THE SPURS MADE THE PLAYOFFS WITHOUT KAWHI.
Dan: All great points. Peering towards the future, what comes next?
Seth: I honestly don’t know. Butler is going to leave at the end of the season. But will Thibs? At this point, I have no reason to believe Glen will seriously get involved. All this rumored talk of him intervening and taking the reins has led to nothing. If I could handle it myself, Butler is gone TODAY, and Thibs and Layden are gone TOMORROW, and then I (Glen) put the team up for sale on Monday. They have to clean house and eliminate the toxicity from the building. Bring in a young innovative head coach that can relate to players and build around KAT, assuming he still wants to stay after all of this.
Dan: Haha… “sell the team on Monday.” That got me, man.
About all of this, I don't know. This is such a weird moment.
They could do the logical thing and fire Thibs, assign Ryan Saunders as interim head coach, and trade Jimmy for the reported package Miami Heat have offered, including Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and a protected first round pick.. However, that seems too much to ask for. So I fully expect them to go into the regular season with Butler on the roster and if he plays, I'm sure the team chemistry is going to be great and there won't be any finger pointing during bad stretches.
Yup, this is going to work out great.