By: Seth Toupal
After one of the most contentious off-seasons in franchise history, the Minnesota Timberwolves appear set to enter the post-Jimmy Butler era. Butler announced yesterday that he wants out, and wants to be traded to either the Los Angeles Clippers, Brooklyn Nets or New York Knicks. After 1 season (59 games to be exact) the Timberwolves are right back where they started. The only problem is that they are without Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen, who were all traded for Butler during the draft last year. But how did we get to this point? Travel back in time with me to examine the highs, lows, and the present of the Jimmy Butler Chronicles.
June 22nd, 2017: The Jimmy Butler Era officially begins after a draft night trade between the Timberwolves and the Bulls. The Wolves acquired Butler and the 16th overall pick (Justin Patton) in exchange for Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the 7th overall pick (Lauri Markkanen). Reaction to the trade gave the Wolves a tremendous win, and it was pretty clear that the national media viewed the Wolves as serious Western Conference contenders with the acquisition of Butler.
June 29th, 2017: Butler was introduced to Minnesota in a press conference at the Mall of America. Butler wowed the crowd, and even gave out his phone number at one point to provoke the doubters of his ability to lead the Wolves to the promised land. All seemed golden in Minnesota, and it seemed like the beginning of a new era in Timberwolves Basketball.
October 20th, 2017: Jimmy Butler plays his first home game at Target Center and is welcomed to the home crowd by this sweet introduction. The Wolves go on to win 100-97 over the Utah Jazz, in Ricky Rubio's first game at Target Center as a visitor. Butler scores 13 points in his home debut and Jamal Crawford leads the Wolves down the stretch for the win. Interestingly enough after the game Butler orders security to prevent Rubio from entering the Wolves locker room.
December 27th, 2017: Butler scores 39 points as the Wolves pick up a huge win at home against Denver. The win pushes the Wolves to 22-13. Butler late in the game taunts Denver saying that no one can guard him. At this point the sky was the limit for the Wolves. Everyone thought that a special season was imminent.
December 31st, 2017: Buler scores 26 points in a 107-90 win over the Pacers. The Wolves end 2017 at 23-14.
February 18th, 2018: Butler sits out of the All Star game, citing the need for rest. Questions gravitate to whether or not Tom Thibodeau is working his players too hard
February 23rd, 2018: Butler injures his knee late in a loss to Houston. Players on the court say it doesn't look good. Fans panic. Doubt starts to creep in. The Wolves sit at 36-26 after the loss.
April 6th, 2018: Butler returns in a Wolves win over the Lakers, scoring 18 points in 23 minutes. The Wolves improve to 45-35 with the win. Days earlier, Butler calls out the Wolves for lack of effort and places blame for defensive woes on the team, not the coach.
April 11th, 2018: Butler scores 31 points in the Wolves win against Denver to advance to the playoffs. Everyone celebrates. The drought is over! A game for the ages that actually went Minnesota's way.
April 25th, 2018: The Wolves are eliminated by Houston in the first round of the playoffs. A season that looked so promising fizzles at the end. Butler cites his appreciation of what the Wolves were able to do during his first season there. The core is still intact and the team should be able to match their production and make the playoffs again.
July 3rd, 2018: Reports from Chicago point to a rift developing between Karl-Anthony Towns and Jimmy Butler. Butler is apparently fed up with the lack of effort on defense. This comes amidst reports that Butler wants to pair with Kyrie Irving and head to New York to form a super-team in the East. Towns mulls his future with an extension looming in the offseason. Cryptic tweets and Instagram posts run wild.
July 13th, 2018: Jimmy Butler turns down a 4 year, $110 million extension from the Wolves. This move is not unexpected, as Butler would be able to earn more after his current deal expires. But with the rumors of a Towns rift, Wolves nation is understandably uneasy.
July 18th, 2018: Karl-Anthony Towns speaks to the media after comments made by Butler and doesn't give any definitive answers as to his future with the team. Tension mounts.
September 18th, 2018: Tom Thibodeau heads to Los Angeles to meet with Butler to discuss his future with the team. The meeting was originally scheduled to be in Minnesota, so signs point to something bad happening with the change in location.
September 19th, 2018: Jimmy Butler officially requests a trade from the Timberwolves. Butler lists the Clippers, Nets, and Knicks as his desirable destinations according to league sources. Social media goes nuts as Timberwolves Twitter, Nick Wiggins, Stephen Jackson and Jimmy Butler ignite a free for all with all sorts of mud being thrown by all sides.
There is still more to come in this situation as Butler hasn't been traded yet and Wolves media day is Monday. So needless to say get your popcorn ready for more fireworks over the next few weeks. The Butler Era brought the Wolves to the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, But now it is time to build around Towns and Wiggins and hopefully it doesn't take another 13 years for the next playoff trip.
Seth is host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop here.