Was it all a farce? If not that, did the media blow it all out of proportion, as Andrew Wiggins has intimated? Karl-Anthony Towns sounds like he's BFFs with departing teammate, Jimmy Butler, despite reports to the contrary. The Minnesota Timberwolves ended the months-long drama when they dealt Jimmy to the Sixers on Sunday, and his former teammates said all the right things when it was announced, even if their words break the very bounds of credulity.
"He's one hell of a player," Towns said following the announcement. "I don't know how many Jimmy Butlers there are in the world, so I think he'll be missed." We'll save you the suspense: there's one Jimmy Butler out there, and now he's Philly's problem.
Taj Gibson was seated across the aisle from Jimmy on the team charter back from Sacramento when news of the trade broke. "No matter what, even if you want to ask for a trade, when you finally get traded it's kind of a weird feeling," Gibson said. "That is the moment I felt for him." This sounds more realistic because Taj—like coach Tom Thibodeau—knows Jimmy from Chicago.
Towns wasn't the only Wolves star singing the praises of the man who wanted out of town so bad, he repeatedly told the coach and owner to trade him despite having one year left on his contract, and when it didn't happen soon enough for his liking, blitzed a preseason practice to curse out the GM and allegedly punk Minnesota's young stars. "If you're going into battle, you want him on your side," Andrew Wiggins reportedly told Joel Embiid about his former teammate. What Wiggins may have forgotten to mention is how quickly Jimmy can ask to switch sides.
"I learned a lot of things from him," Wiggins said of Butler. "We made the playoffs, something we haven't done in a long, long time. So I think it was a positive either way you put it." This from a man who got into a dangerous online tiff with Stephen Jackson after Wiggins' brother uttered a hallelujah when news Butler wanted out was first reported on the eve of training camp.
Butler is out now, and he leaves the Wolves at 4-9 on the season and tied with the dreadful Cavs for the worst defensive rating in the NBA. Before Jimmy's arrival in the summer of 2017, Towns was coming off a sophomore season that saw him average 25.3 points and 12.3 rebounds per game while twice in successive offseason's he was the player GMs most wanted to build a team around in their annual survey.
These days KAT's perceived to be Charmin-soft on the defensive end, averaging a ho-hum 19.9 points and 10.3 rebounds in 13 contests this season. The same statistical drop afflicted Wiggins, but while last year Jimmy had the Timberwolves on pace to finish in the top half of a loaded Western Conference, this season—for all his bluster about how the Wolves "fucking need" him—they were a net negative when he was on the court, and a net positive with Wiggins or Towns.