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Thibodeau insists Butler deal met Wolves’ targets

MINNEAPOLIS — In his first comments since trading Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves coach and president Tom Thibodeau was surgical in describing the deal that sent the All-Star guard to Philadelphia.

“I said from the beginning, you always have to put the organization first,” Thibodeau said. “So you set the parameters for what you are looking for and once we felt we got to that point where the offers met some of the things we were looking for, then we said, ‘OK, now it’s time.'”

Throughout the prolonged end to Butler’s time in Minnesota — from when he made his trade request to when he was finally dealt east — Thibodeau has publicly maintained that he would do what would yield the best payoff for the organization. There doesn’t, however, seem to be a unanimous answer to what “best” entails.

In the end, Thibodeau decided to take what he called “a good deal” that involved trading for proven players — Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless — and a 2022 second-round pick, instead of taking a different offer that involved multiple first-round picks.

Thibodeau disputed the idea that he is attempting to construct a win-now roster that would help ensure his own job security, and highlighted the significance of the draft pick.

“Not really. It was what was best for the organization,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously getting good players was a priority. The pick part was important. We felt we got a good pick from Philly.

“It was what does it mean for the team? If you get two rotational players, that’s good. If you can get a pick, that allows you to do more things. I think that’s all part of it. You’re always trying to think about what the possibilities could be.”

Butler came to Minnesota from the Chicago Bulls in June of 2017. During Butler’s tenure, Minnesota was 61-44. Of those games, they were 11-15 in games when Butler was on the roster but sat out. Thibodeau, who coached Butler with the Bulls prior to their time together with the Timberwolves, dodged questions asking him to characterize his relationship since Butler made his exit.

“I have known Jimmy a long time,” Thibodeau said. “Obviously, we felt when we had the opportunity to get him that we had to take advantage of that. It is rare when you have the opportunity to get a top-10 player. We knew there was risk involved with it.”

After shootaround on Monday morning, veteran forward Anthony Tolliver said it was time to turn the page from the Butler chapter and start fresh.

“I mean, I think that whenever you’re struggling and you have adversity going on, it just kind of doubles the weight,” Tolliver said when asked if the trade request and drama that followed was wearing on the team. “At least we know what we got and everybody is going to be on the same page.”

Tolliver also said the trade was needed for the team to move forward.

“From a moving-on standpoint, it’s definitely a good thing,” Tolliver said of the deal. “Guys can just get the cloud from over our heads and just go out and play basketball.”

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