Wolves' Taylor glad to put Butler drama behind him, confident in Thibodeau

MINNEAPOLIS -- Like many people in and outside of the Timberwolves' organization, team owner Glen Taylor is glad the Jimmy Butler trade ordeal is over.

ew Orleans Pelicans forward Nikola Mirotic (3) is blocked by Minnesota Timberwolves forward Robert Covington (33) and forward Andrew Wiggins (22) during the second quarter at Target Center on Wednesday night. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS -- Like many people in and outside of the Timberwolves’ organization, team owner Glen Taylor is glad the Jimmy Butler trade ordeal is over.

“It consumed too much of my time on things that were negative,” Taylor said.

In the end, Taylor liked the haul Minnesota got for its disgruntled All-NBA wing.

Taylor likes Robert Covington and Dario Saric, specifically, because they are starting-caliber players who can immediately help Minnesota win. He also likes that they’re under team control past this season. Taylor thinks the pair can be part of Minnesota’s core for years to come.

“That’s why when that possibility worked out that I thought that was better than some of the other ones that might have included a (draft) pick or something like that,” Taylor said. “Of course, we love picks, but I thought that we immediately probably better bring a group together and these two guys seem to fit in.”


So Taylor doesn’t  mind where the Wolves ended up in the ordeal, but he didn’t seem to enjoy how he got there.

Taylor was hoping to get a trade done before the season started. That was the team’s goal. But he said the Wolves never received an offer that “made sense” for them.

So it was on to Plan B. Minnesota was going to play out 10 games or so with Butler and see how things looked then, hoping it could find a deal with a team that was off to a slower start.

That plan would have worked better if the Wolves were winning games, which, of course, wasn’t the case. Taylor expected the team would win a couple games on its recent five-game road trip, and was hoping for three wins.

“And that didn’t happen,” Taylor said.

Minnesota went 0-5 to fall to 4-9 on the season. Taylor did think the ongoing Butler situation was affecting the team’s play.

“Then I think because we had already set a goal to look at it and we see that things weren’t getting better for us, we really went back to work and canvassed all the teams to see where they were at as far as a trade,” Taylor said.

The Wolves had a few options, and decided to go with Philadelphia’s offer. Taylor said general manager Scott Layden handled much of Minnesota’s trade communications, but confirmed reports that he talked with 76ers owner Josh Harris near the end of negotiations.


“When you have a trade this important is, I check to make sure the other owner is in sync with the exact same trade that we’re talking about so there’s no misunderstanding,” he said. “That’s just kind of a check that most teams want to do to make sure there’s no misunderstandings with something like this.”

Taylor said if the Wolves’ front office knew the process was going to take as long to play out as it did, “we probably would’ve done some things differently.”

Taylor said Tom Thibodeau told him the morning after the coach’s meeting with Butler in Los Angeles about Butler’s wish to be traded, which caught the owner off guard.

At first he said they didn’t know if the request was real or not, “or if it was just an emotional thing.” Then Butler’s request went public, “which made it really difficult to kind of bring it back into the fold again.”

“I don’t think any of us anticipated how open this whole thing would become with Jimmy,” Taylor said. “We miscalculated that.”

Much of the drama played out in front of everyone through the media. Taylor said that was “disappointing.”

“Because I think a trade can be done and it can be done in a much more quiet environment and still get done,” Taylor said. “I’ve done a lot of trades and the Timberwolves have with other players that have requested it and a lot of it has really never gotten out into the open.”

Taylor said players have come to the team and said if there’s a chance to be traded, they’d like that to happen. He said when that’s happened, the team has made a trade without talking to other people or the media.


“We just went to some other teams that also looked like they had a need for our player and just said what can we work out,” Taylor said. “I wish that would’ve happened here.”

Knowing what he knows now, Taylor said he has regrets about making the trade with Chicago for Butler last summer. He noted that Butler played less than a season’s worth of games with Minnesota.

“I just never anticipated that this would play out like that,” Taylor said. “To me, I thought we were helpful to him, because he said he wanted to get out of Chicago, so I thought we were helpful. We certainly gave Chicago some really good young players. (Butler) came here with expectations that he would help lead the team, not only with scoring, but with his experience that he would share with our young guys and we got behind that.”

Taylor said he had no reason to believe Butler wanted out this summer. He felt Minnesota “wasted some time” trying to convince Butler to reconsider and play the year out, which he said Thibodeau “did everything under his power” to do.

Taylor said he still has faith in Thibodeau to lead the Timberwolves organization, because he “can’t believe he ever thought any of these things would happen.”

“Because he’s a guy that spoke for Jimmy and did all that type of stuff, I know that he is really hurt that this thing happened,” Taylor said.

He said Thibodeau still has years of experience as a coach, and that the Wolves have “got to get through this thing.”

“Jimmy has made it more difficult for the coach to do so,” Thibodeau said, “but I’m relying on his experience that he will come back and get us off to a better track record than we had these first games and be competitive this season.”

And he’s “hopeful” that the atmosphere at Target Center will turn around, too. The building’s atmosphere has been toxic this season, with small attendances and plenty of audible boos.

“We told the fans that we were going to have a good year, and that’s because we believed we would,” Taylor said. “We told all of that information based on that Jimmy was going to be here, and we thought he was going to be here. I think that was upsetting not only to us, but our fans that Jimmy would do this. And everybody has let down their expectations saying, well, what’s going to happen this season? I’m hopeful not that people are intrigued enough to see with these new guys what we can do and get ourselves back.”

Back to what exactly? Taylor said he won’t put a wins expectation on the season; injuries play too large of a role in that.

“But there’s no reason to believe that we shouldn’t be a good team and competitive,”” Taylor said. “The West is really difficult, but still, I think we have a good team and should win our share of the games. Hopefully, our goal has got to be to get back into the playoffs.”

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