Timberwolves wing Jimmy Butler has requested a trade after meeting with coach Tom Thibodeau in Los Angeles on Tuesday, reports the Athletic's Shams Charania and Jon Krawcyznski.
Thibodeau has been reluctant to deal his star with the start of the season right around the corner, but it appears that will have to change.
Butler was originally supposed to have met with Thibodeau in Minnesota on Monday, but he sent a tweet refuting that timing, and they met on Tuesday in L.A.
Tuesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said on the radio, "The main crux of the issue is between Karl-Anthony Towns and Butler. It was there last season and it was not addressed this summer."
Woj reports that the three teams where Butler would sign a max extension are the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, and New York Knicks:
Charania adds that Butler is "optimistic" about a trade to one of those teams:
Towns hasn't signed his own max extension yet, allegedly because he was waiting for Butler to meet with the team first. And he's already shot down the rumor his girlfriend stepped out on him with Butler.
In a report earlier this week, Charania and Krawcyznski confirmed that rumored chemistry issues and tension surrounding Towns, coach Thibs, Andrew Wiggins, and Butler were possibly "coming to a head" and the team would eventually reach a "fork in the road."
But an updated report from Krawcyznski on Thursday appears to throw water on the idea of internal strife leading to the trade demand. Instead, it was over Minnesota's failure to renegotiate and extend his contract so he could make a higher figure—$30 million—starting in 2018-19:
There were reports of friction between Butler, Towns and Wiggins, but sources say that is not the main reason Butler has decided to move on. Butler was hoping for a renegotiation and extension of his contract this summer, one that would have raised his salary for 2018-19 to $30 million and added another four years and $145 million on to that. But the Timberwolves would have had to cut an enormous amount of salary to pull that off and deemed it unreasonable if they wanted to stay competitive in the near term.
Now the Timberwovles brain trust must deal their disgruntled star less than a week before training camp begins, or risk a malevolent force in the locker room possibly submarining the max extension Towns was going to sign.