Rambling On is your home for Minnesota sports talk for the common fan. Check out our daily content, and joint the conversation, by following us on Twitter or liking us on Facebook.
We release two Minnesota Sports Ramble blogs a week, one on Tuesday (Minnesota Vikings related) and one on Thursday (Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Timberwolves related).
For today's special Timberwolves opening night edition, Rambling On godking Erik Ritland asks resident Timberwolves expert Beartrap McManus his thoughts on the Jimmy Butler fiasco, Towns and Wiggins, Thibs, Glen Taylor, and the upcoming 2018 season.
Thanks for reading!
What are your general feelings going into the season?
I’m more checked out this season than I have been in recent years because it’s all pretty depressing. And I was a season ticket holder for some shit Wolves teams. I can't help but think that's how most of the fan base feels at this point.
How did the Jimmy Butler ordeal get so bungled? What fault do the Wolves and Butler have?
Ultimately, I think this all falls on Taylor for giving Thibs full control over the roster and coaching, and then on Thibs for fucking things up. There are reports that Butler made his intentions known earlier in the summer that Thibs for whatever reason ignored. I think there are aspects that Butler could have handled better but it’s on Thibs to resolve that, something I don’t think he’s done much to do.
What did you think of Butler’s acrimonious practice and subsequent ESPN interview?
The most charitable reading I’d give it is that Butler wanted to force the Wolves’ hands and accelerate the trade process. But I think there's more to it than that, considering his media orchestrations. Part of his intent was to embarrass his coaches/teammates. The whole thing is pretty funny though.
Were there any trade opportunities that you would have done? Did you have any trade ideas?
It sounds like Miami was willing to give up Josh Richardson and were rebuffed. That’s the best offer I’ve heard. Ideally, they should be looking for young, cheap talent and avoid taking on any expensive long-term contracts.
What do you hope will happen with Butler? What do you think will end up happening?
There’s been plenty to suggest that Thibs still doesn’t want to trade him and will stubbornly try to play this out. The worst that could happen would be a trade that bogs the wolves down with contracts beyond next season, further fucking up their rebuilding process.
What is your general opinion of Thibs, as both a coach and a GM?
He’s been disappointing to me on both fronts. The Wolves mostly improved their record last year by acquiring Butler, a top 20 player in the league. There wasn’t any meaningful improvement from the rest of their young players. His calling card, defense, hasn’t been there, and his signings make that seem almost by design.
As a GM, the whole signing old Bulls players has become laughable at this point. He’s also repeatedly failed to address their biggest needs, 3s and D.
Do you think that Butler’s negative comments about Wiggins and Towns are accurate? Are they playing up to your expectations?
Wiggins sucks. He’s an outdated style volume scorer that really isn’t good at that. His max deal will be an albatross in the coming years. He’s also a bit better than he was allowed to be last year, and once Butler’s gone I expect him to improve with spacing and more touches. He still sucks.
Towns has his issues, especially defensively, but is still a force on offense and has incredible potential. I’m relieved they re-signed him. I think he puts too much on himself and then tends to sulk a bit when he fails. He’s still the future or the team and their best (only?) chance at being at all relevant going forward.
What do you think of the Wolves offseason signings? What would have you done differently or tried to do?
Not sure what I would’ve done different, as I’m not sure what was out there, but they still didn’t address their biggest needs, 3 and D. I’m glad they got Anthony “Tony T” Tolliver back though.
What players other than Towns, Wiggins, and Butler do you expect to play well and add a lot to the team? Who do you expect to hold back?
Teague and Gibson should play well as veterans. We know what Teague is at this point: a good, ball dominant point, but his passing and defense are still lacking. Gibson played surprisingly well last year but is an old-school post player and on offense he takes away spacing to maximize Towns’ abilities.
What do you see for the season ahead? Can they make the playoffs without Butler?
I think returning to the playoffs even with Butler was a longshot. The West has only gotten better and they barely snuck in last year.
Without Butler, I don’t see much of a chance at that. I’m pretty sure this season is going to suck on and off the court for Wolves fans. They’re a mess right now and I don’t trust Glen Taylor or Thibs to take any truly meaningful steps to fix that anytime soon.
Beartrap McManus is an NBA and Timberwolves expert. He has been covering the Timberwolves for Rambling On since...well, this article.