The short update:
The Jimmy Butler trade situation is still a cluster$*&@.
The longer update, this is where we are as of Wednesday morning/afternoon:
After talks between the Timberwolves and Heat broke down over the weekend — because Miami felt Minnesota altered the deal, moving the goalposts again, although that may just be part of a lot of different, competing agendas in the front office — Minnesota reached out and tried to spark a deal with Houston again, reports Stefano Fusaro of ESPN.
Jimmy Butler update:
According to a league source, The Wolves contacted the Rockets again Tuesday morning, after their failed deal with Miami this past weekend. Minnesota was still adamant on receiving Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker, but Houston will not put Tucker on the table.
— Stefano Fusaro (@FusaroESPN) October 10, 2018
I have heard from people around the league that Tucker is not available in the deal, Houston knows it lost a lot of defense this off-season (Trevor Ariza, Luc Mbah a Moute) and doesn’t feel it can give more away, even in a Butler trade (Butler absolutely would help their wing defense). Miami still would like to continue talks, they don’t have the cap space next summer to land a max player so a trade like this is their only option. That said, sources say other teams feel Thibodeau doesn’t have his heart in making a trade and that is the real coare problem — Thibs wants to get the band back together and win games, and owner Glen Taylor isn’t coming in strong enough to force a deal to get done.
All of which means things are slowly moving toward the awkward reunion of Butler coming back to the Timberwolves for regular season games (he’s not going to miss those game checks). From Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic:
Barring a change in the dwindling trade market between now and the season opener in San Antonio on Oct. 17, the Timberwolves are making preparations to start the season with Butler on the roster, league sources said…
But the chaotic nature of the talks in general have resulted in the market cooling for the moment. That can all change with one phone call, but the Timberwolves are moving forward as if there will be no deal before the start of the season. Thibodeau has started reaching out to players on the team to prepare them for the prospects of a deal taking place during the season, not before, sources said.
After talks fell apart over weekend, Miami's still pursuing discussions with Minnesota on a Jimmy Butler trade, sources tell ESPN. Butler has been in Timberwolves locker room with teammates this morning before practice, but that doesn't necessarily mean he'll join them on floor.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 10, 2018
Remember, Karl-Anthony Towns wouldn’t sign his max contract extension until the Butler situation was resolved, and when the Butler trade request first leaked Andrew Wiggins‘ brother sent out a celebratory Tweet. This has been the most dysfunctional locker room in the NBA, and the dynamic will be even worse now.
It could be a negotiating ploy by Minnesota to say they plan to enter the season with Butler, but with teams feeling they can’t get a deal done with Minnesota until the price comes down, Butler back in a Timberwolves uniform may be the reality starting next week.