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Agent responds to report Wolves' Butler is 'fed up' with Towns, doesn't intend on signing extension

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) celebrates with guard Jimmy Butler (23) during the second quarter against the Orlando Magic at Target Center in Minneapolis on Nov. 22, 2017. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

ST. PAUL — More alleged offseason Timberwolves drama came down the pipeline Tuesday, July 3, as a Chicago Sun-Times report surfaced stating, among other things, that Wolves guard Jimmy Butler is "fed up" with Karl-Anthony Towns.

The report, which cited a league source, said Butler "has no intentions of signing an extension with Minnesota, all but fed up with the nonchalant attitude of his younger teammates, specifically Karl-Anthony Towns."

The report said Butler could change his mind about Minnesota, "especially" if the Wolves would trade Towns or if Towns "showed Butler that he is that foxhole player." It also said Butler, who will enter free agency next summer if he doesn't agree to an extension with Minnesota this offseason, feels like he's being recruited harder by other teams than by Wolves owner Glen Taylor.

When reached for comment about the Sun-Times story, Bernie Lee, Butler's agent, sent the following message: "We had to fly to Europe today for a charity event, so we've been on a plane for 14 hours so I'm playing catch up, so bare with me. But the one thing I will say is, anyone who knows Jimmy, this is Mr. Taylor, Thibs, to every player he's ever played with, they know one thing about Jimmy... 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."

Towns is eligible for a max extension this offseason, similar to the one Andrew Wiggins signed last fall. Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said the team is "optimistic it will be done as soon as possible."

Butler called out the Wolves' lack of commitment to defense at various points throughout the 2017-18 season. Toward the end of the regular season this spring, Butler said the Wolves needed to want to play on that end of the floor. Those comments seemed to be directed at Towns and Wiggins.

"We've just got to get tougher. We've got to play like some dogs with a sense of urgency," Butler said. "Teams just do whatever they want against us. I don't like it. Ain't no coach in the world that can make somebody play hard. Ain't no coach in the world that can make anybody want it."

During the Wolves' first-round playoff series against Houston, Butler told the Sun-Times he didn't think there were many people who understand how important winning is to him.

"I put so much into this game and I only play to win," Butler told the Sun-Times. "I don't play for any individual stats or accolades, any of that. And at times I get lost in how everybody is not built the way that I'm built.

"The same with Thibs. People don't understand that he puts so much time into his craft. He understands what it takes. But sometimes I just look around and I don't understand how or why you all don't love to get better the way that I do."

But Butler's tune was different at the end of the season. Moments after Houston bounced the Wolves in Game 5 of their playoff series, Butler said he was "happy" for the guys in the locker room and "proud" of everybody. He said Houston did its job in the series, "but that doesn't take away from what we did this year, and we'll continue to build and we'll be better next year."

Butler signing an extension with Minnesota this summer doesn't seem likely, though that's more for financial reasons. The New York Times reported Saturday that the Wolves will offer Butler a four-year, $110 million extension when they can do so on July 9, but there's zero indication Butler will sign such a deal. Doing so would leave millions on the table, as Butler could sign a five-year deal worth roughly $187 million with Minnesota next offseason when he becomes a free agent.

The Wolves could attempt to renegotiate Butler's contract this summer and sign him to a five-year deal worth about $177 million, but to do so they'd have to clear at least $20 million in cap space, which would be a serious challenge.

Thibodeau said the Wolves are working "every day" on signing Butler to a long-term deal.

"We know how important he is," Thibodeau said, "and we feel he's one of the best players in the league."

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