It was executed so flawlessly that it had to be premeditated.
Phones were blowing up across the state: Jimmy Butler — at odds with the organization and having already demanded a trade — just walked into practice and beat the Timberwolves starters with a group of third-stringers.
All the while he had a few colorful viewpoints to share, including yelling at the (at the time) Wolves GM Scott Layden “You fucking need me!” and targeting fellow teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
At one point in a scrimmage, sources said, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, "You (bleeping) need me. You can't win without me." Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way. Jimmy's back.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 10, 2018
From there, Butler jumped right into an interview with Rachel Nichols, an ESPN reporter who just happened to be in Minnesota hours after the infamous team practice on the night of October 10th.
And Butler aired it out; he was sick of the Timberwolves.
He was sick of the lack of effort from other players (namely Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins), sick of other players taking everything so personally, and sick of being unappreciated and not getting the contract he felt he deserved.
Minnesota fans were furious: how dare he go on national media and talk badly about the Timberwolves?
But wasn’t he right?
The lack of effort from Andrew Wiggins was on display every night; and as a result he was traded to Golden State with a first and second-round pick in exchange for D’Angelo Russell. Karl-Anthony Towns, while being a generational talent, hasn’t led the Timberwolves to more than 36 wins since Butler’s departure, and often gets criticized for his lack of effort.
Butler, meanwhile, is thriving.
After a brief pit stop in Philadelphia, he seems to have found his home in Miami. He is the outspoken team leader: holding everyone accountable, playing lights out, and finding himself on the verge of making the NBA Finals.
One key theme in Jimmy Butler’s departure from the Timberwolves: He was a Minnesota superstar forcing himself out of the organization because he wasn’t getting the treatment or the effort he deserved.
Well, it should, because the Vikings have seemingly made their own “Jimmy Butler” gaffe with Stefon Diggs.
There was obviously a time when Stefon Diggs was happy with the Vikings, but in a matter of a few years a bit of dissatisfaction morphed into full-blown resentment.
That resentment was shot into the ether, and has rained down to infect my entire soul.
I’ll be the first to say that the Vikings were right for trading Diggs when they did. I’m not resentful that the trade happened, because I’m glad the team saw the relationship was irreparable and jumped on the opportunity to ensure a good return.
What I am resentful about is that the Vikings let it get to a point where Diggs wanted out.
I’m resentful that the team doubled-down on it’s predictable, ineffectual, outdated offensive strategy. I’m resentful that the team gave their overpaid quarterback free reign not to target the team’s best receiver. I’m resentful that the team didn’t make Stefon Diggs a more focal point of the offense.
And that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day: Diggs wasn’t happy with his target share.
Many, many people across the Vikings-sphere have dismissed this entire debacle as Stefon Diggs being a diva.
“He wants more catches? But he had over 1100 yards last year!”
That’s true, but people need to realize he averaged just over 6 targets a game last season. He believes a player of his caliber needs much more, and after witnessing the first two weeks of the season – he was right.
Of course it is still very early, but Diggs already looks to be the elite talent the Buffalo Bills needed to send them over the top. The team is 2-0 and 3rd league wide in offensive yardage, thanks in part to Diggs’ instant chemistry with quarterback Josh Allen.
In fact, Diggs has already accumulated nearly 25% of the targets he received all of last year as a member of the Vikings.
What does he have to show for it?
Nothing much, he’s only leading the league in receiving yards, and on pace for 1,900 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 128 receptions.
Stefon Diggs had more receiving yards than the Vikings' whole team today https://t.co/9njMgVqwSK
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 20, 2020
Meanwhile, the Vikings decided to forgo Diggs to stick to their old school run-first offensive game plan — a bold move with a $30 million quarterback and an incompetent offensive line.
And guess what? They’re 0-2 and look as ineffectual as ever.
Among quarterbacks who have played two full games, Kirk Cousins is dead last in completions and passing yards, 29th in completion percentage, and leads the league in interceptions.
Some may argue those abysmal numbers saying the Vikings have one of the lowest time of possession in the league, thereby not giving Cousins time to accumulate stats. While that could be true, that does nothing to forgive the horrendous completion percentage and interception stats.
It turns out paying a quarterback over $30 million a year and then taking away one of only two receivers on the roster who can run a proper route isn’t a good idea.
It turns out a run-heavy offense, when the offensive line is bad and opposing teams stack the box because the play calling is predictable, doesn’t work.
It turns out trading away a young, elite receiver who is the NFL’s best deep ball threat and route-runner actually makes your team worse.
Who would have thought?
At the end of the day, I think a toast is in order for Minnesota sports fans. We get to watch history repeat itself yet again.
We get to watch another superstar putting up unbelievable performances in a different jersey, while our teams struggle, because the front offices were too stuck in their ways to innovate or change the status quo.
Add it to the list of Minnesota sports-inflicted trauma.