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Glen Taylor Talks about Butler Antics

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November 16, 2018

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In a telephone interview Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor said disgruntled Jimmy Butler misled him and he regrets trading for the former Chicago Bulls star. Taylor, though, wouldn’t criticize the man who recommended the 2017 trade—Tom Thibodeau, his president of basketball operations and head coach.

Butler’s childish antics at an expletive-laced practice last month and refusal to play in early season games were centerpieces to his strategy of forcing the Wolves to trade him, which they did several days ago acquiring three players and a future draft choice from the 76ers. It was a difficult trade process for the Wolves and one that Taylor advised Butler about, saying he should play in the games instead of opting out here and there.

“I said it was just necessary for him to do that even if he wanted to be traded,” Taylor told Sports Headliners. “That if you wanted to be traded, you want to put yourself in the best light. Other teams can see your behavior here. And it certainly slowed down the process for us and hurt us in negotiating with other teams in that they were concerned if that behavior would continue on with their team.”

The Wolves’ longtime owner said Butler indicated to him he would play in the games, saying he planned to play with heart while inferring it would be business as usual. Instead, Butler’s theatrics, including his infamous October practice where he reportedly yelled at teammates and Wolves brass, created a drama that became a national story.

“It (the weeks of unpredictable behavior) was certainly something that shouldn’t have happened,” Taylor said. “There’s nothing positive about it at all. I think you just have to assume that type of action by anybody affects the other people on the team. It’s not consistent with team play.”

Upon joining the 76ers this week Butler pronounced himself “an incredible human being.”

Taylor’s reaction? “I probably don’t want to comment,” he answered.

Glen Taylor (photo courtesy of Minnesota Timberwolves).

The Wolves had a losing record of 4-9 while Butler was with the team. Minnesota qualified for the playoffs last season and the team’s early record was a disappointment to Taylor who gave up promising guards Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, plus the No. 7 first round pick in the 2017 draft, to acquire Butler.

“I would say it would never have occurred to me to give up those talented three young men that we did…if we were only talking about a year or two,” Taylor said. “I knew that he (Butler) was under contract for a couple of years and assumed that we would renew that contract.”

Butler was a controversial talent in Chicago who had played part of his career for Thibodeau. Should Thibodeau have known—or had assurances—that in acquiring one of the NBA’s best all-round players he was obtaining a talent who wasn’t making long-term promises of staying in Minneapolis?

“Maybe it just never really occurred to us to ask him that,” Taylor said. “Maybe we just made some assumptions that we shouldn’t have.”

Butler reportedly didn’t like his teammates and didn’t feel appreciated enough by the organization. A one season run was all the loyalty he cared to send Minnesota after the trade that brought him here.

Apparently Thibodeau and Taylor initially had other assumptions but the owner didn’t criticize his basketball leader. “Well, I probably shouldn’t point the finger at anybody else,” Taylor said. “Maybe I should have been as responsible for that as he.”

Taylor didn’t become a billionaire by being sidetracked with problems but he admitted to feeling some relief these days. “Well, I am much better now that it’s concluded (the trade),” he said. “During this whole last seven weeks it was time consuming and also unnerving in the sense that you didn’t know exactly what was going to be the final result.”

Worth Noting on Gophers & Vikings

It’s the City of Lakes versus the Windy City this weekend with the Gophers playing in Minneapolis on Saturday against Northwestern, and the Vikings in Chicago for a Sunday night assignment with the Bears.

Both the Gophers and Vikings were about three point underdogs earlier this week. That’s changed with the Gophers and Northwestern, and the game is now seen as closer to a tossup with wagers perhaps concerned about injuries taking a toll on the Wildcats.

The incentives for the Gophers and Vikings goes beyond Minnesota pride. The Gophers, with a 5-5 overall record, need a sixth win to earn bowl eligibility. The Vikings, 5-3-1, are trying to repeat as NFC North Division champions and four of their remaining seven games are against division rivals including two meetings with the Bears.

The question for the Gophers is what defense will show up at TCF Bank Stadium tomorrow? The unit that gave up 646 yards in a 55-31 loss to lowly Illinois? Or the group that limited explosive Purdue to just 233 yards in a 41-10 Minnesota win last Saturday?

It’s Senior Day tomorrow and among the Gophers playing his last game will be Eden Prairie’s Blake Cashman. His performance against Purdue has to be one of the most impressive ever by a Minnesota linebacker. The coaching staff graded him with a remarkable 58 points, the most ever during head coach P.J. Fleck’s nearly two seasons at Minnesota.

Former Gopher head coach Glen Mason, talking on the Big Ten Network this week, predicted Minnesota will defeat Northwestern and Wisconsin in its last two games of the season.

The Bears have lost three of their last four games against the Vikings but the 2018 Chicago team is revitalized with new or improved players. The Bears are 6-3 and whether the Vikings can leave Chicago late Sunday night in first place could come down to which quarterback is best late in the game.

The nationally televised game is a potential showcase for Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins, playing in his first season with the Vikings, and Chicago’s Mitch Trubisky who at 24 is having a breakout season. Cousins has made some pressure plays already this year for the Vikings but in his previous seasons with the Redskins was 4-19 against winning teams. He is 0-2 with the Vikings after losses to the 9-1 Saints and 8-1 Rams. Trubisky, this week’s NFC Offensive Player of the Week after last Sunday’s career best 355 passing yards, talked this fall about the importance of the Bears developing a “killer instinct.”

The game’s outcome could turn on one play including special teams. Three years ago in Chicago Marcus Sherels ran a punt back 65 yards for a touchdown as Minnesota won 23-20. Sherels, 31, along with defensive end Everson Griffen, are the longest tenured players with the club after joining the Vikings in 2010.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

(1) Reader Comment

  1. avatar
    Mike Jones
    November 19, 2018 at 9:56 am

    At some point the blame needs to be taken to ownership. We realize this is the NBA here, with some unique personalities. But Kevin Garnett is not on speaking terms with Glen Taylor. Kevin Love was not happy here. Jimmy just basically tore apart Taylor and the entire franchise. The current roster obviously wants very little to do with Tom Thibodeau and have tuned him out. Once he's canned (and he will be soon), they'll be on their NINTH head coach since just 2005. Why do we generally keep giving Mr. Taylor a pass? Because he grants interviews and is a fairly nice guy?

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