Report: Jimmy Butler rejects Minnesota Timberwolves' max extension offer

All-Star wing Jimmy Butler may not be long for Minnesota. (Getty Images)

As expected, All-Star wing Jimmy Butler rejected a four-year max extension offer from the Minnesota Timberwolves and will join the 2019 free agency class, according to KSTP-TV reporter Darren Wolfson.



By waiting until next summer to opt out of his $20 million player option for the 2019-20 season, Butler can increase his salary over that four-year span by roughly $30 million. The salary cap is expected to increase to $108 million next summer, when more teams are expected to have the space to chase high-profile free agents, and those teams will be able to offer Butler a four-year, $139 million contract.

The Timberwolves can offer Butler a five-year, $188 million max contract next summer.

Jimmy Butler is reportedly unhappy in Minnesota

News of Butler’s rejection may not come as a surprise, but it is no less worrisome after a season in which he repeatedly questioned the effort of his teammates, especially on the defensive end. It also comes amid a report from the Chicago Sun-Times’ Joe Cowley, who cited a league source last week in relaying that “Butler, who has been frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates — specifically Karl-Anthony Towns — does not intend to sign an extension with the Timberwolves.”

Cowley also reported that Butler and former USA Basketball teammate Kyrie Irving “are still trying to figure out a way to play together.” The Boston Celtics’ All-Star point guard is also a free agent next season, when Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson are all expected to be on the market.

Butler’s agent denied reports of his unhappiness

Butler’s agent, Bernie Lee, rejected the notion that Butler is unhappy in Minnesota, telling the Pioneer Press, “He doesn’t do passive aggressive. If he has something to say to someone he says it without hesitation and everyone involved knows this. So I say that to say, if he had an opinion to share about anyone or anything in particular they would know and they wouldn’t have to read about it.”

In his first season for Minnesota, Butler averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and a pair of steals in 36.7 minutes last season, earning Third Team All-NBA honors and leading the Wolves to their first playoff appearance since 2004. He missed six weeks of the regular season after undergoing surgery to repair a torn right meniscus, returning for a first-round series loss to the Houston Rockets.

The Chicago Bulls traded Butler to Minnesota for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen on draft day in 2017, reuniting the perennial All-Star with former coach Tom Thibodeau on a Timberwolves team most believed was built to win for the long haul. What was once considered a lopsided trade in Minnesota’s favor would tilt toward Chicago if Butler were to leave for nothing in return next summer.

Tom Thibodeau considered Butler’s extension a top priority

In the meantime, Thibodeau, who also serves as the team’s president of basketball operations, will continue to sell Butler on the idea that Minnesota can compete in a loaded Western Conference with Towns, who is also eligible for a long-term contract extension this summer, and Andrew Wiggins.

“Every day we work at it,” Thibodeau told reporters in late June, just before the NBA’s free agency period began. “We know how important he is and we feel he’s one of the best players in the league. So how you manage that on a daily basis is important. I think our communication with him is important.”

They’re communicating, all right. It just might not be what the Wolves want to hear.

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Ben Rohrbach is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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