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It got to the point where not even Minnesota Timberwolves president/coach Tom Thibodeau could take it anymore.
Thibodeau saw how the Jimmy Butler drama was impacting the locker room, and following an 0-5 road trip, Thibodeau decided it was time to make a deal, as detailed by Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
More than a month Butler requested a trade, the Timberwolves agreed to send him to the Philadelphia 76ers for forwards Dario Saric and Robert Covington, point guard Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round pick, per multiple reports.
Thibodeau had been reluctant to make a deal, hoping that Butler could be convinced to stay, at least for the season. (The star swingman enters free agency this summer.)
But Thibodeau saw a broken locker room after Friday’s loss to the Sacramento Kings, meeting with his staff and deciding it was time to pull the trigger on a deal.
The Sixers had reportedly offered a package Wednesday, and according to Hine, Thibodeau got things moving Saturday, with Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor assisting in finalizing the trade.
“We’ve got to change it,” Thibodeau told reporters of the Timberwolves’ situation after the loss to the Kings. “We go home [Monday] and we have to get right, so we have two days to get ready and we have to change.”
This deal may not have been as good as the one offered more than a month ago by the Miami Heat, which reportedly included rising shooting guard Josh Richardson and perhaps a first-round pick. But at the time, Thibodeau seemingly was still trying to keep Butler on the team and wait and see how things played out.
Eventually, though, the Heat refused to include Richardson in a trade for Butler and talks apparently hit a standstill.
The Houston Rockets were also heavily pursuing Butler, reportedly offering a package at one point that included four first-round picks, as well as point guard Brandon Knight and forward Marquese Chriss. But Thibodeau and Wolves general manager Scott Layden were hesitant to trade Butler to a team in the Western Conference, and weren’t interested in Knight or Chriss, reports said.
Either way, the saga is now over, with Butler being unloaded 18 months after he was acquired in a deal with the Chicago Bulls, a deal that cost the Timberwolves guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, and a pick that became promising forward Lauri Markkanen.
“Over the summer, Butler made it clear he did not see a future in the Twin Cities,” Hine wrote. “Now everybody is parting ways.”