Jimmy Butler’s injury will not compel the Minnesota Timberwolves to sign another player for the stretch run of the regular season—or so says coach-president Tom Thibodeau.
From the Star Tribune‘s Jerry Zgoda:
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said he and his staff will consider adding a player to a roster that has had one open spot all season, but said they won’t be compelled to do so with Butler out for the next month or more.
“We talk every day about the possibilities,” he said at this morning’s shootaround. “We’re 60 games into it. I like the team that we have.”
This is a…weird stance.
Butler is expected to miss the next four to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee. The team and himself opted for the quicker procedure, which basically snips the meniscus rather than repair it, giving him a better chance of returning in advance of the playoffs. That in itself feels like a risk.
But not seeking to fill a roster spot? In case Butler isn’t right upon return? And when your bench has the lowest usage in the league, according to NBA.com? That verges on reckless.
Then again, Thibs might be looking at this through a different scope. There aren’t a ton of free-agent wings available 0n the open market, and he has fresh bodies coming off the pine, in large part because he seldom gives consistent work to his bench. The combination of Jamal Crawford and Shabazz Muhammad might be enough to get the Timberwolves by. Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins both have room for more scoring opportunities in their workload as well.
None of which means the Timberwolves will be fine. They should still make the playoffs, but their hold on the West’s No. 4 seed is tenuous at best. Signing someone off the free-agent market won’t change that. So while Thibs would be wise to keep an open mind, he’s right not to rush into anything after losing Butler.