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Tom Thibodeau sidesteps discussing alleged rift between T’Wolves stars

Tom Thibodeau demonstrated no inclination this week to address reports that Jimmy Butler is “fed up” with some of his Minnesota Timberwolves teammates, particularly Karl-Anthony Towns when asked about the situation.

“We know how important both guys are to our team, so we’re just getting ready for next year.” Thibodeau said, via ESPN’s Nick Friedell.

Allegations of a developing dysfunctional relationship between Butler and Towns — and presumably Andrew Wiggins as well — were brought to light by the Chicago Sun-Times‘ Joe Cowley, who reported a few weeks ago that the veteran has become “frustrated with the nonchalant attitudes of younger teammates,” primarily due to their lack of commitment on the defensive end of the court.

And this is not the first time suggestions that Butler is not impressed with his younger teammates has surfaced.

Amid all the purported drama comes another report that suggests Butler is eager to team up with a certain superstar point guard, reportedly on an Eastern Conference squad.

Butler has one year remaining on his contract before he can opt out of his deal and become a free agent in 2019. The Timberwolves reportedly offered the 28-year-old Butler a maximum extension recently, but it appears unlikely Butler will accept the deal.

Thibodeau was similarly not interested in addressing Butler’s future with the T’Wolves, either.

“We know how important Jimmy is to the team,” Thibodeau said. “But we don’t talk about contract negotiations or anything like that, so just get ready for the season.”

It would be naive to expect Thibodeau to lend credence to unsubstantiated rumors of internal strife within the organization, especially when it involves two of the team’s biggest stars. Still, where there’s smoke there’s often fire, and if so, Thibodeau presumably would prefer to handle any conflict internally and not in the media.