2018-19 Season Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves

Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves will look to return to the playoffs after a drama-filled offseason.

Coach: Tom Thibodeau (entering his second season with Minnesota, 47-35, .573, his eighth overall, 333-225, .597).

Last Season: 47-35, lost in first round of playoffs to Houston, 4-1.

Key Returnees: Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Gorgui Dieng, Taj Gibson, Tyus Jones.

Key Additions: Josh Okogie (rookie, Georgia Tech); Keita Bates-Diop (rookie, Ohio State); Anthony Tolliver (Detroit), Luol Deng (LA Lakers).

Key Losses: Jamal Crawford (free agent), Nemanja Bjelica (Sacramento), Cole Aldrich (Atlanta).

Outlook: So much for the honeymoon period of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004, which is exactly what Minnesota did last season. However, All-Star guard Jimmy Butler met with head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau and requested a trade to one of three teams, the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks or Los Angeles Clippers. Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists in 59 games last season, helping the Timberwolves to end their playoff draught, though they bowed in five games to Houston. All of which puts the Timberwolves and all the progress they’ve made on tilt. Karl-Anthony Towns is one of the top young big men in the league, on both ends of the floor. However, swingman Andrew Wiggins, the team’s highest-paid player ($26 million per season), regressed, his scoring average dipping to 17.7 from 23.6, and his play declined across the board. Minnesota added a pair of athletic, versatile guys in Josh Okogie of Nigeria by way of Georgia Tech and Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State. However, the Butler saga will hang over the franchise’s head until it is resolved, one way or another, which trumps the accomplishments of last season and more than dampens the enthusiasm built off that run to the playoffs.