By Larry Fitzgerald
June 27, 2017
It finally has arrived after 13 years of absolute failure, four different head coaches in four years, and four team presidents. In 2017-18 the Timberwolves will return to the NBA living.
Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on renovating Target Center. The three-time WNBA champion Lynx have been sent to St. Paul this year while their Target Center home make-over and renovation continues. As the World Champion Golden State Warriors have proven, if you can win NBA titles in Oakland at Oracle Arena, you can win anywhere.
The Timberwolves again have looked to Chicago to save their lost franchise. Remember, Kevin Garnett played high school basketball on the West Side in Chicago before Timberwolves Vice President Kevin McHale and Flip Saunders drafted the high school star.
He helped turn the Timberwolves into winners on their first (logo) and once was an MVP. Last week on NBA Draft Day, the Timberwolves, now on their third logo, agreed to a blockbuster multi-player deal with the six-time NBA champion Chicago Bulls for three-time NBA All-Star forward Jimmy Butler.
Last year the Bulls signed Chicago native and three-time NBA champion Dwayne Wade away from Miami. His contract is for two years with $48 million guaranteed. That put the Bulls in a bind financially.
Butler is already under contract, and because Tom Thibodeau coached in Chicago for five years and Butler was his best player, he was able to dangle just enough chips at Chicago’s general manager to tease this deal.
Chicago gets two-time NBA slam dunk champion guard Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn, last year’s number-four overall pick. Plus they get the 2017 number-seven overall pick of the Timberwolves, Lauri Markkanen, in exchange for Chicago’s number 16 overall pick, 6’-11” center Justin Patton from Creighton. It looks like a win-win for both teams.
Both teams get value and talent. The Bulls need cap space. The Wolves have plenty of cap room after releasing center Nickalo Peckovic and desperately need Butler, a winner, a team leader, and a great defender.
The Bulls get LaVine, who averaged 19 points a game last year before injuring his knee late in the season. His upside potential is unlimited. I saw LaVine at the NBA Finals and talked to him. He said he is 90 percent recovered from the injury. Obviously the Bulls think he’s ready or no way would they make this deal.
This is the type of deal that can make the Timberwolves a playoff contender right now. Butler loves Thibodeau and his rugged style and will run through a wall for him.
Thibodeau needs a veteran superstar like Butler, 27 and a former All-NBA defensive second-team player, to show the young stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony Towns that it starts on defense and to trust in Thibodeau’s system and work ethic.
I love this deal for the Timberwolves. It is exactly what they need now, and the timing is perfect. I think the Timberwolves have the foundation talent now to win 50 games a season for years to come. My question to you is this: Did the Timberwolves get better with Butler?
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.