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Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said the team remains committed to trading swingman Jimmy Butler and that Taylor and president/coach Tom Thibodeau are united in that mission.
“Thibs and I are lined up on this,” Taylor said in an exclusive interview with Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We need to be looking at a trade.”
Butler requested a trade last month, though Thibodeau reportedly has tried to talk Butler into staying. Thibodeau has also been the point man in potential deals centered on Butler. Now, it appears, Thibodeau will trade in his front-office responsibilities for a clipboard, with the Timberwolves set to open the season Wednesday at San Antonio.
That said, Taylor told Hartman he had no issue with how Thibodeau went about handling the Butler situation, and that Thibodeau’s job is not in jeopardy.
“No, no, the only thing now is we are starting to play games and I am asking him to concentrate on coaching,” Taylor said. “GM Scott Layden will help to see if any trades are available.”
Taylor added he wasn’t bothered by Thibodeau’s attempts to keep Butler in Minnesota.
“Well, I’m OK with it,” Taylor said. “Initially, when Butler told [Thibodeau] he wanted to leave, you know Tom did everything he could to try to keep Jimmy here and I understand that. They have a close relationship. Thibs brought him here so that he would stay here.”
The Timberwolves reportedly came close to a deal that would have sent Butler to the Miami Heat, his preferred destination, a couple weeks ago. The deal is said to have fallen apart at the last minute.
According to multiple reports, both sides are open to resurrecting talks. The Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets are other teams that supposedly have more than just a passing interest in Butler.
It is believed Thibodeau was hesitant to trade Butler to the Rockets, already a power in the same Western Conference in which the Timberwolves compete. With Thibodeau now focused solely on coaching, some league insiders believe the Rockets could now emerge as true contender for Butler.
Meanwhile, Taylor said he has not thought about selling the team and thinks the franchise will be OK once Butler is finally dealt.
“We will get through this,” Taylor told Hartman. “The changes we have to make, we will get through this. I’ll just keep working and doing the best I can on it to keep our team very competitive.”