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Tom Thibodeau, offering his first public comments since the Minnesota Timberwolves traded Jimmy Butler, said the time was right to move the disgruntled four-time All-Star.
Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday by the Timberwolves along with oft-injured center Jason Patton in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless and a 2022 second-round draft pick.
“I said from the beginning, you always have to put the organization first,” Thibodeau told reporters before the Timberwolves took on the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night at the Target Center. “So you set the parameters for what you are looking for and once we felt we got to that point where the offers met some of the things we were looking for, then we said, ‘OK, now it’s time.'”
Thibodeau denied the idea he is trying to put together a roster that could win now to help cement his job security, even going as far as to mention the second-round draft choice obtained in the deal.
“Not really. It was what was best for the organization,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, getting good players was a priority. The pick part was important. We felt we got a good pick from Philly.
“It was, ‘what does it mean for the team?’ If you get two rotational players, that’s good. If you can get a pick, that allows you to do more things. I think that’s all part of it. You’re always trying to think about what the possibilities could be.”
The Timberwolves acquired Butler from the Chicago Bulls on June 22, 2017. Ironically, Patton came with Butler to Minnesota from Chicago in that deal, which sent Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and the seventh pick in the 2017 draft, which proved to be Lauri Markkanen, to the Bulls.
Thibodeau had been Butler’s coach while both were in Chicago, a relationship that helped facilitate that deal being made and putting off Butler being traded by Minnesota.
“I have known Jimmy a long time,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, we felt when we had the opportunity to get him that we had to take advantage of that. It is rare when you have the opportunity to get a top-10 player. We knew there was risk involved with it.”