Pat Riley denies calling Tom Thibodeau a 'motherf-----' over Jimmy Butler talks

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nba/players/4912/" data-ylk="slk:Jimmy Butler">Jimmy Butler</a> apparently isn’t the only one hurling epithets at Tom Thibodeau. (AP)
Jimmy Butler apparently isn’t the only one hurling epithets at Tom Thibodeau. (AP)

We’ve heard for weeks now about Jimmy Butler trade talks between the Miami Heat and Minnesota Timberwolves repeatedly falling apart after the two sides were close to an agreement.

Now, thanks to ESPN’s Jorge Sedano, we have a clearer picture of what those breakdowns looked like. And it initially looked as if Butler wasn’t the only one hurling epithets at Timberwolves president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau.

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Sedano describes tense scene between Riley, Thibs

Sedano, who works out of L.A. but spent years covering Miami sports and is connected to the Heat, reported on his radio show Thursday a tense exchange between Heat president Pat Riley and Thibodeau. (h/t @ Deadspin).

There’s been a couple of different incarnations of this deal. The first one, the Heat didn’t want to take back Gorgui Dieng. Then, the next incarnation of the deal was ‘OK forget it, let’s just do it straight up, just for Jimmy on your end.’ They finally relented on Josh Richardson. They were giving them Josh Richardson, then Dion Waiters was going to be the cap filler and then a protected first-round pick.

The medicals were exchanged, which generally in the NBA means this is a done deal. And then, Thibs called back and wanted more picks. And Pat Riley literally — I was told — called him a motherbleeper and hung up the phone.

Pat Riley denied using expletive language

Riley denied using the pointed profanity while in a trade negotiation with the Timberwolves on Friday night ahead of the Heat’s preseason game against the Atlanta Hawks, saying he respected the Timberwolves coach and general manager too much to do so.

“At to what has been reported in the past 24 hours, I have too much respect for Tom Thibodeau and all that he’s accomplished in this league,” Riley said in a statement. “Our conversations have been nothing but cordial and I have never used that kind of language in negotiations …”

Situation keeps getting worse for Wolves

The report reinforces the notion that Thibodeau, holding most of the managerial power in Minnesota, has lost his grasp on the realities of the Butler situation. Thibodeau is in a win-now situation facing trade demands from a player with leverage who doesn’t care about Minnesota winning or Thibodeau’s job security.

Frankly we’re not sure what Butler wants, but his best interests clearly aren’t behind his current coach.

Chaos in Minnesota

Thibodeau has done everything he can to keep Butler to the point of delusion. His approach even had Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor reportedly undermining him and general manager Scott Layden, making known that Butler was on the market after Thibodeau declared that he wasn’t.

And now that Butler trade talks have commenced, it sounds like Thibodeau is sabotaging negotiations and getting hung up on.

The situation is endlessly fascinating and continues to be the NBA’s most compelling story as the season approaches.

At this point, it’s hard to imagine a conclusion that ends well for Thibodeau.

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