A meeting between Minnesota Timberwolves four-time All-Star Jimmy Butler and the president of basketball team / coach Tom Thibodeau is expected to set the tone for Butler's final season – and his upcoming free agency in July, said league sources ESPN on Saturday.
Just days before Minneapolis's training camp begins, Butler and his agent Bernie Lee plan to meet with Thibodeau in Minneapolis on Monday to engage in a serious conversation about the fragile state of the franchise.
"Whatever needs to be communicated … it will be," said a league source briefed on the meeting, ESPN.
The athletic first reported on the planning of the meeting.
The relationship between Thibodeau and Butler has been very strong since the 2011 bull election, but Butler's partnership with young star Karl-Anthony Towns was tense and remains an obstacle to the team's 2018-19 success – and perhaps the ability to sign Butler to one new contract next summer, said league sources.
Minnesota may offer Butler a $ 189.7 million five-year contract with a four-year contract of $ 140.6 million.
The Timberwolves negotiate a rookie expansion with Towns, which could be completed before the start of the season. Competing executives believe Butler could hit the market by the end of the February deadline if Minnesota fears he will lose nothing to him in July with no agency.
Butler, 29, will be the subject of intense recruitment in the vacant agency in July, which provides for the possibility of six maximum contract time slots among the four teams in New York and Los Angeles. Butler was never enthusiastic about the idea of a big market, but rather about being surrounded by like-minded players who give him a shot at success in the postseason.
The tension of the Butler-Towns is of paramount importance, but it is not the only organizational drama that threatens to undermine the current structure of the franchise. Owner Glen Taylor has significant concerns over the broader franchise culture under Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden – so much so that Taylor considered changes in the off-season, League sources said. Taylor has seconded his decision to transfer full control of basketball operations to Thibodeau as part of his stance as a coach, League sources said.
From the friction inside the locker room to the bad relationship of the basketball business group to the business side, Butler's aspiring free agency only increases the stakes for the future of Thibodeau. Thibodeau begins the third year of a five-year contract.
Thibodeau is under tremendous pressure to re-sign Butler, for whom the Wolves swapped Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn and a No. 7 overall, who became Lauri Markkanen in 2017.
The Timberwolves qualified for the playoffs on the final night of the regular season 2017-18 and reached the postseason for the first time in 13 years.