Alright, so this is the offseason that keeps on giving. On the off chance things get even wilder, let's set the stage. Jimmy Butler is unhappy in Minnesota and has demanded a trade, with some unique destinations. The Timberwolves have signed Karl-Anthony Towns to a supermax deal, which may hint that they will comply Jimmy Butler's demands. And, of course, this has lead to speculation that coach Tom Thibodeau might be on the hot seat. I have so many thoughts on this, so let's just run them down in list format.
The Timberwolves should keep Jimmy Butler, even if it's just one more season
Jimmy Butler has been a "Brian Star" (WP48 of 0.200 or, twice as good as an average NBA wing per minute) and a "Dre Star" (worth 10+ Wins in the regular season) for the past five seasons. He's still on the tail end of his prime. One season of Jimmy Butler is likely worth more than any collection of assets the Wolves would get in return for him, especially if it's to one of Jimmy Butler's preferred destinations. Also, the Timberwolves have Jimmy Butler's Bird Rights, which means they can offer him the best deal next season, which could be worth many millions of dollars. In short, the Wolves have all the leverage. Patrick said this exact point about Kawhi with the Spurs. As such, we think the Wolves should tell Jimmy Butler to suit up. Will they?
Andrew Wiggins is a great example of the Sunk Cost Fallacy
The standard tanking logic goes, you need to be in the draft lottery to stand a shot at a superstar, And indeed, many superstars are top picks (like Karl-Anthony Towns). What people forget is that "lucking" into a top pick, at least in the NBA, also has a very real downside. Namely, teams seem incapable of giving up on top prospects. Andrew Wiggins was not a good college player. He was not good on his rookie contract. He's on a max contract and helped shoot the Wolves out of the playoffs last year. And on that note.
Andrew Wiggins is one of the worst #1 draft picks ever!
Now, Andrew Wiggins may never touch the career accolades of Andrea Bargnani. Nor can he match the flameout potential of Larue Martin or Anthony Bennett. That said, not only was he not a productive player (he's actually been getting worse!), but he is eating into the production of better players. Last season the Wolves won 47 games. An average small forward with Andrew Wiggins minutes would have produced six wins. And for a max contract, I'd hope you could get average production! The Wolves made the playoffs for the first time in fourteen years thanks to two star players. Andrew Wiggins made sure they were first-round fodder. When all is said and done, Wiggins may be a viable candidate for worst number one pick ever.
There's weird behind the scenes drama
Approaching this cold and analytically is easy as we're viewing it from a 10,000-foot view. It's clear Jimmy Butler is unhappy in Minnesota, and who knows what is going on. On a similar note, Adrian Wojnarowski released a list of teams "in serious talks" for Jimmy Butler, and it did smack close to home on Kevin Draper's post on Woj's questionable reporting methods. Not sure if anything is there, but it's the offseason and we're talking trade gossip!
The Timberwolves were right to re-sign KAT, sadly
If there's a hall of fame for wasting top talent in the NBA, the Minnesota Timberwolves are first-ballot for sure. They wasted twelve years of Kevin Garnett (and remember they attempted to cheat to get ... Joe Smith!) They wasted six seasons of Kevin Love. I noted an odd one degree of separation about Kevin's on the Timberwolves on Twitter.
It is amazing to me that Minnesota got both Kevin Love and Kevin Garnett in the draft with the 5th pick, completely wasted their prime, and then sent them to a squad that immediately made the NBA Finals.— Andrés Alvarez (@NerdNumbers) September 23, 2018
If Jimmy Butler leaves and the return isn't great, the Wolves will likely return to not being in the playoffs. Karl-Anthony Towns is now committed for another five seasons on the Wolves. And while he might force his way out, for the foreseeable future, one of the best centers in the NBA will see his best years wasted on this squad. Yay?
Reminder, the Wolves are just a bad franchise
This offseason has been fun, and the Wolves adding to the drama is fun. Since Patrick was a Timberwolves fan, we've watched the Wolves subpar moves closes for almost a decade now. It was sad to see them briefly give us some hope before dashing it quickly. Of course, we should expect nothing else from this franchise; I just wish we could have.