Jimmy Butler returned to Timberwolves practice with a bang, calling out executives, coaches and teammates as he held court and embarrassed starters with backup players at his side.
The event was met with excitement and praise, but the Open Floor podcast has a different take on the veteran star's power play, viewing the day as more depressing than triumphant.
(Listen to the latest Open Floor podcast here. The following transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Andrew Sharp: This Wolves practice is the NBA practice equivalent of that Dream Team scrimmage in Monte Carlo. I will read every single detail, I would love to see any sort of video that emerges from Minnesota. Regardless if it was stage-managed or not, I think the whole thing must have been just so bizarre that it would be fascinating to learn more about the mechanics of how all this happened.
Ben Golliver: I also wonder if video would make it seem that much more sad, though. To me this does seem like a very sad scene, doesn't it? You just picture him storming in, everyone being like, 'Oh, hey, great to see you after six weeks we've been waiting.' Jeff Teague was like talking to the media two weeks ago being like, 'You know, it probably would've been a good idea if we had worked out together before training camp. That seems like a very smart thing that other teams are doing.'
Jimmy shows up one week before the season starts, coincidentally or not, right before he's about to start getting docked game checks and he wants to make everyone bow at his presence. To me it's really not this triumphant scene people are trying to paint. It's kind of sad.
AS: I totally agree with you, and to me I think that point kind of underscores why I still can't understand why they haven't moved on from Tom Thibodeau in all this. I think it's been sad and uncomfortable and obvious for a while where this is all headed, and Thibodeau is the one that's kind of holding up any kind of resolution from this.
I understand that he has the need to get the best deal he can and at the same time, though, you look at Wiggins and Towns and this is not good for their development. This is a really tough situation for them to be in, and I think we can tell jokes about whether they're soft or not, but it's just not healthy for anyone involved. Thibodeau is ultimately the guy who can kind of end it, and he hasn't. From the outside it seems crazy that it has dragged on as long as it has, and we should all be conscious of the fact that it's even more depressing on the inside and even weirder day to day for the people who are actually having to live it.
BG: I'm not that worried about the impact on Wiggins, because if this doesn't wake him up, if this doesn't shake him up—I mean, it's not like he's killing it in the preseason. To me it basically comes down to Butler versus Towns, and is Butler in the best interest of growing Towns into a top-5 type player here over the next few years, and I think everyone can agree the answer to that question is no. And so that's why the front office and the coach staff, as you just pointed out, should be much more amenable to this idea of trading him and trying to figure out what's next by building around Towns.
I said a few weeks ago that I thought this season would tell us a lot about Towns. I think this practice is going to tell us a lot about Towns, because I think he needs to step up. And Yahoo! Sports and Chris Haynes reported that he tried to give a little message to the team after practice, after this whole stunt and maybe it wasn't really well received. Towns, you're the max guy now. I know you're young, I know you're fairly quiet by nature, but it's time to grow up. You need to take this team back. And look, that doesn't mean you have to beat Jimmy Butler one on one in practice, but you have to show some backbone and make the veteran guys in that roster believe in you and believe this is your time.
Now, I don't believe that means he should feed into this back and forth and get himself in these interviews with ESPN and all that and try to turn this into a "he said, he said" situation. But he needs to be taking the steps as a leader right now because it's his team, he's gotten the money, it's time, it's going to be his team in the future. Do it, Karl.