In yet another strange twist to the Jimmy Butler trade demand saga, Miami Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley again issued a statement about his team’s negotiations, this time informing the media that he was “pulling the plug” on talks with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Through a team spokesman prior to his team’s win over the Washington Wizards on Thursday, Riley confirmed that he apologized to the team at Wednesday’s shootaround for the public nature of the discussions, informing those whose names have been mentioned in trade rumors that he both had their backs and was backing out of negotiations. He also didn’t rule out trading them moving forward.
Heat confirm that Pat Riley addressed his players about Jimmy Butler trade rumors and told them, "I'm pulling the plug." But he did not tell them anything about standing by his young players. Rather, made them aware of process.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 18, 2018
Which, in the end, didn’t really accomplish anything?
“I know it’s a business,” Heat wing Josh Richardson said of the meeting, via The Athletic. “I didn’t really take it for too much. I just kind of kept it going and kept it rolling. But I know anything can happen. It’s hard to avoid it, especially when I’m getting tagged in 150 tweets every day and on my Instagram. I don’t pay attention to it. … I know that whatever’s supposed to happen is going to happen.”
Soon after Riley addressed the team, the Heat lost their season opener to the Orlando Magic.
Josh Richardson is the primary piece in a Jimmy Butler trade
Richardson has been the focus of trade discussions between the Heat and Timberwolves. According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, Riley offered a package built around Richardson and a protected No. 1 pick for Butler, before Minnesota coach and team president Tom Thibodeau pushed for more.
“They were giving them Josh Richardson,” former Heat television studio host Jorge Sedano said on his ESPN Radio show last week, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Then Dion Waiters was going to be the cap filler, and then a protected first-round pick. The medicals were exchanged, which, really, generally in the NBA means this is a done deal. And then, Thibs called back and wanted more picks. And Pat Riley literally — I was told — called him a motherbleeper and hung up the phone.”
The Miami Heat’s spokesperson is working overtime
That report led to the first prepared statement from Riley — a denial last week that read, “I have too much respect for Tom Thibodeau and all that he’s accomplished in this league. Our conversations have been nothing but cordial and I have never used that kind of language in negotiations.”
In that same statement last Friday, Riley did acknowledge that he once issued another statement years ago telling Boston Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge to “shut the f— up.”
So, yeah, the public relations department out of Miami has had its hands full.
Where are the Butler trade talks now?
As for the basketball operations department, the Miami Herald recently reported that the Heat did not intend to initiate further trade talks with Minnesota, but would reopen negotiations if the Wolves called. Discussions around the rest of the league, which have included the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, have also gone “dormant,” according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Meanwhile, Butler was in uniform for Minnesota’s season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday — a month after demanding a trade and weeks after berating his teammates, coaches and the front office during a practice, telling them all, “You f—ing need me. You can’t win without me.”
Wait, isn’t this Butler fiasco a complete disaster?
Wolves owner Glen Taylor told the Star Tribune this week that he and Butler have agreed that the team will continue trying to fulfill the trade request if the player stays committed to the team in the meantime. According to Charania, Minnesota plans “to use the first few games of the regular season, potentially up to one month, to allow this roster to mesh and trade offers to develop again.”
All of which seems like a horrible idea. To recap: The Timberwolves are hoping Butler will mesh with his teammates in a matter of weeks, despite his repeated trade demands and open disdain for fellow stars Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, all while teams that have reportedly removed themselves from trade discussions will sweeten their offers a month closer to Butler’s free agency.
– – – – – – –
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Report: Rihanna turned down Super Bowl halftime show
• 5 reasons Boston’s back in the World Series
• ‘Potter’ actor left scarred by fantasy football injury
• ‘Deep’ issues for Lakers after LeBron’s debut