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Danecdotes: T-Wolves dealing with too much drama

The Minnesota Timberwolves were exciting last season for the first time in more than a decade, but it looks like that is whittling away rather quickly.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves were exciting last season for the first time in more than a decade, but it looks like that is whittling away rather quickly.

At the time of writing this, the Wolves are 2-2 on the season. There are certainly worse ways to start a season of professional basketball, but the team has just enough issues for me to anticipate nothing special from them.

The team's issues begin with its best player, Jimmy Butler.

Butler averaged roughly 22 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Wolves last season and played an absolutely huge role in the team ending its decade-plus playoff drought. His missing of much of the final third of the regular season with a knee injury caused the Wolves to plummet in the standings - they snuck into the playoffs with the No. 7 seed on the final day of the season.

My hopes were high this season. Butler is healthy and the team's young stars, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, gained some postseason experience. What could possibly go wrong?

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I'm glad you asked.

As luck would have it, the 29-year-old Butler does not get along with his younger counterparts, justifiably citing a lack of effort. He requested a trade - with a very short list of potential destinations - and has said he will not sign with Minnesota at the end of the season no matter what.

Both Butler and management have indicated they would like to see a deal made quickly for Butler, but the season has begun and he is still in a T-Wolves uniform.

To his credit, he certainly seems to be playing to win, despite the fact that he doesn't want to play for this team.

Will that keep up for the rest of the season? Maybe, but I feel like this situation will turn ugly the longer it goes on.

Another glaring issue is the aforementioned lack of effort in the younger stars. Towns is not as bad as Wiggins in this regard, but the 7-footer - arguably one of the most gifted big men in the league - can be seen taking plays off at times and has been exposed on defense on a number of occasions.

Wiggins is clearly not OK with being the team's No. 3 scoring option after Butler and Towns, and at times shows little to no effort whatsoever.

On the positive side of this discussion, rookie Josh Okogie has seemingly been giving his absolute best on the floor in his first four games, including on the defensive end. The youngster fights for position on defense in a way his teammates should take notes.

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The last big issue to bring up is coaching.

Tom Thibodeau is an interesting coach, to say the very least. He has found some success as a pro coach (335-227, made the playoffs every season but one in seven years as head coach in Chicago and Minnesota), but he seems to have an issue where he finds certain players he likes and overplays them to the point of exhaustion, injury or both.

Thibodeau is also the president of basketball operations for the Wolves, which means he has his hand on the wheel of the whole Butler situation. I cannot help but feel like the longer this issue drags out, the worse the team will get and the worse Thibodeau will look. The worse Thibodeau looks, the more likely it becomes that he will be looking for a job in April.

I think a part of me is simply writing this out of wishful thinking, because if I foresee something bad happening with my favorite sports teams, it usually ends up being a pretty good year, and vice versa. However, I just think there are too many things standing the way of this team's success this year, and possibly the next few years if imminent roster moves are made hastily.

I'm cautiously optimistic that this team can sneak into the playoffs with a low seed in the very tough Western Conference, but we'll have to see if that optimism lasts.

Dan Determan has been a reporter for the Echo Journal since 2014, primarily covering sports at Pequot Lakes and Pine River-Backus
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