Butler will let Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau handle the yelling.
— Lee Jenkins (@SI_LeeJenkins) October 10, 2017
Butler, 28, says he was “too emotional, too confrontational” in the Windy City.
Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves can expect to hear a similar mantra for the next six months. Butler believes Thibodeau has mellowed a bit since the Chicago days (“He’s still up and yelling, don’t get me wrong, but he’s gained this whole human element”) and ponders whether he can do the same. Criticism of Butler’s leadership in Chicago was poorly timed, but not unfounded. His tongue-lashings can actually be harsher than Thibodeau’s. Butler gives an example: “What are you doing right now? What is going on in your mind? Who the f— do you think you are? If you shoot that ball again, I’m throwing it upside your head.” Butler pauses to assess his words. “O.K., that’s what I’d want to hear. But not everybody is the same, and right now, you’re probably scared of me and want to be left alone.”
Like [Kevin Garnett] with Flip Saunders, Butler can address Thibodeau on the sideline and channel him in the locker room. “I’m able to tell Thibs, ‘Chill out, I’ll talk to Karl,’” Butler says. “And I’m able to tell Karl, ‘If you come off the ball screen, I need you to be up, I can’t have you back. That’s what Thibs wants.’” The Timberwolves, despite their glut of young talent, did not resemble a Thibodeau team in Year 1. They finished 20 games under .500 and 28th in field goal percentage defense. Enter Butler, a stopper, scorer and emerging playmaker who transforms a promising collective into a potent core. “Great intensity, great passion,” Towns says. “I just don’t know if I’m going to listen to the country.”
“I’m not going to do what I did before,” Butler vows. “I can’t be like, ‘Look, motherf——, here’s what we’re gonna do.’ I was too emotional, too confrontational.”