Minnesota Timberwolves: Tom Thibodeau needs to trade Jimmy Butler or he needs to lose his job

There’s an alternate universe where Fred Hoiberg is the coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves. That alternate universe team has three All-Stars on it and they are ready to challenge the Golden State Warriors of the world for the Western Conference title. Karl-Anthony Towns is even more MVP-like in that universe, Andrew Wiggins actually plays defense and Zach LaVine is throwing down monstrous dunks in Timberwolves bright-as-hell safety-vest green.

That, of course, is not reality. Sadly, most alternate universes are not reality.

In reality, the Timberwovles are living through a nightmare that keeps sports teams executives up at night. One of the current studs on the team has requested a trade and that is just over a year after his joining the team. Welcome to Jimmy Butler’s world, we are truly living in it now.

Butler pretty much forced his way out of Chicago two off-seasons ago because he couldn’t get along with anyone. It looks like that has come to fruition in Minnesota, too. Most thought that the Tom Thibodeau and Butler reunion was going to be a nice marriage that would result in deep playoff runs for the franchise. The theory was that Butler would be a middle man between the barky coach and the young players. It appears that Butler has just become his own version of Thibodeau and there’s not enough room in the Timberwolves locker room for that much stubbornness.

We don’t know who Butler is truly mad at or non-compatible with. It could be Towns or Wiggins or owner Glenn Taylor or maybe it has all turned upside down and Thibodeau is the reason? Either way something isn’t clicking and Butler’s ticket out of town should have been punched long before the week prior to training camp.

In typical Timberwolves fashion, this whole situation has been butchered, sautéed and dipped in Cherry Berry. Taylor should have never given Thibodeau the keys to the whole franchise. Taylor then should have then made Thibodeau either trade Butler or fire him very early in the off-season. It is becoming clearer and clearer that this whole Butler mess is the reason Towns hasn’t signed his max contract extension. Towns isn’t holding out for money, because the Timberwolves have offered as much as they possibly can. Towns isn’t happy because Butler is still here. If you, Taylor and Thibodeau, aren’t doing everything humanly possible to make Towns happy, you’re doing your franchise and it’s fans a disservice.

Towns is the future of the franchise and, frankly, one of the bright futures of the NBA. Towns is super talented on the court and seems to be the nicest guy off the court, too. Towns is someone you need to build around. Sure, if Butler wanted to come along for the ride, well, that would have been great, but that isn’t happening.

Now here the Timberwolves sit with multiple issues on their plate. Their best player, Towns, hasn’t signed an obvious extension and is, to at some level, unhappy. Your basketball czar, Thibodeau, has rebuilt his Chicago Bulls rosters with the best player that he coached there, Butler, requesting a trade out of Minnesota.

Nothing has gone right for this franchise, I was going to say this offseason, but in reality, not many things have fully meshed since Flip Saunders was fired in the middle of the 2004-05 season.

Training Camp starts next week. Media Day is on Tuesday. It’ll be awkward. All of Timberwolves history is awkward. Nothing will be as awkward as the Thibodeau having to trade his pride and joy away and he better do it quick.

Maybe, one thing could be more awkward. If Thibodeau refuses to trade Butler. That should force Taylor to fire Thibodeau or trade away Butler himself during training camp or maybe even both.

We are in a universe where Thibodeau will have to trade Jimmy Butler or lose his job. That seemed like it would have to be an alternate universe just a few months ago, but now is a harsh, harsh reality.


Kirk Cousins finally gives the Minnesota Vikings quarterback stability

Back when I was a school-aged boy, my mother would take me shopping annually right before the school year began. I imagine there wasn’t much out of the ordinary from this very common practice, except for one yearly purchase: a Minnesota Vikings starting quarterback shirsey.

The fact that getting a new shirsey every time the Vikings got a new quarterback was a yearly occurrence is pretty sad when you sit and think about it.

Any Green Bay Packer fan that did the same practice would only have bought two shirseys in the past 25 years: Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. My childhood Vikings shirseys saw a line featuring Brad Johnson, Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre and, yes, even Christian Ponder.

The shirsey buying eventually stopped for myself, but the continuing factory-line of Vikings starting quarterbacks didn’t. Since 2000, only Daunte Culpepper has been the planned starting quarterback for more than two seasons for Minnesota.

That factory-line will finally stop now.

We might now know all the details yet of the Kirk Cousins signing with the Minnesota Vikings, but we do know one thing, it will finally give the Vikings stability in a position that the team hasn’t had stability in more than a couple times in nearly 60 years as a franchise.

Cousins might not be the to the level of the future Hall of Famer in Green Bay, but he is the first quarterback since Culpepper to, more than likely, be, frankly, good for a stretch of years in purple.

Granted, I am assuming a lot. Cousins could be a flop, but it is unlikely. Heck, he might just get to the same level as that Green Bay QB. Cousins is set to have better seasons than what he has had in Washington and those were pretty darn good.

What I am trying to say is this: the Vikings finally have a quarterback, folks.

When was the last time you could confidently say that? Probably 2009 with Brett Favre and the one game of Sam Bradford to start the 2017 season. Now Vikings fans can look ahead to the season confident in the quarterback. That is a 1 in 10,000 feeling in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Vikings fans are used to a lot of questions, but there is really only one question that should remain: are we going to get a white or purple Kirk Cousins shirsey?

Here’s to the women not here on International Women’s Day

I have a lot of women in my life. When your dad’s side of the family all lives in the same small town as you and all your cousins on that side are women, well, I think that easily constitutes my statement of having a lot of women in my life. Throw on top of that my amazing girlfriend and her family; I think I’ve painted the picture clear enough.

International Women’s Day isn’t the only day we should be thinking about the impact that women have on our life, but it did get me thinking many things.

First, how we are not to the point as a society where International Women’s Day doesn’t need to be a thing is quite amazing to me. It makes no sense that everyone isn’t equal in basic human rights. Sit back and think about that for a bit.

Second, the President of the United States has no grasp on the fact that there is a problem. Look at his track record. He’s a creepy gameshow host and now he sits behind one of the most powerful desks in the world. On the list of gameshow hosts that I’d want to have as President, President Trump would be far down on the list. Well behind Alex Trebek. He, of course, was born in Canada and the Constitution doesn’t allow him to be President, but we aren’t really following that document anymore anyway.

Third, god golly, do I miss my grandma. Seeing the thousands of tweets today about International Women’s Day naturally gets you thinking about the awesome women in your life be it in your real life or the artists on your radio or on your TV screen. I kept going back to the fact that the top of that list will always be my grandma. I haven’t been able to have an earthly conversation with her in almost five years and I really would’ve liked to have one or ten or a million since June of 2012.

Sometimes you think that you don’t change the world, but you do. Just being a hardworking person changes lives. My grandma changed the lives of employees of Kottke Trucking, a company she helped build. She changed the lives of residents of Buffalo Lake as the city clerk and as a part of the EDA and going back to being the city clerk after a tornado hit our little town. She changed the life of my family ten times over in so many ways that it could truly be a book. The things she did while she was alive is affecting those people right now, people that didn’t even know she ever existed are affected by her work. That’s amazing to me.

Connie Kottke would kick your ass and then five minutes later hold your hand. She didn’t sit on the sidelines in life. She was in the middle of everything. She was unique, too. She always had FOX News on the TV, but I have vivid memories of President Bill Clinton’s autobiography ‘My Life’ sitting on the table next to her chair.

As I drive by her gravestone everyday, I often think about how different life would be if she was still here. I think about how proud she would be of my cousins and the beautiful young women they are. I think about how she’d be amazed how different Kottke Trucking is. I think about how much she’d love my girlfriend. I think about how I really wish I didn’t have to do this thinking.

So here’s to all those amazing women that aren’t here for this International Women’s Day. The world is a better place because you were here.

I have a lot of women in my life. I’m blessed that many of them are in the same small town. I simply wish I didn’t have to drive by that stone.

We don’t deserve dogs

I’ve been the proud full-time beneficiary of two dogs in my life. I call myself a beneficiary for two reasons: my parents are the ones who bought the dogs and I’d bet that I’ve benefited more from the two pups being in my life than vice versa.

My first dog, Rusty, was around for a long time. One of my first memories is going to pick him up and he made it into my high school years. He was an energetic dog and would chase virtually everything he could. That chasing regimen didn’t change until he couldn’t really hear the things he’d love to chase. He was an outside dog that didn’t get as much attention as he deserved, but still he’d meet us at the car every time we’d come home and be ever so happy to see us.

We don’t deserve dogs.

Dog number two is the current dog: Kirby. Kirby just turned one and we are just coming up on the one-year anniversary of him being in our lives. He loves to play tug-of-war and run down the driveway when it’s time to go to the bathroom. He also loves to chase things, despite being maybe 10 pounds. While Rusty was successful in catching things, Kirby couldn’t quite capture a butterfly yesterday. 

When the front door opens, no matter where he is, Kirby runs to the front door to greet whoever is walking in. This running is not a defense tactic to protect whoever is already in the house, you can tell it’s out of pure excitement just by the look on his face.

We don’t deserve dogs.

I know these stories don’t just belong to me. Dog lovers everywhere are the proud beneficiaries of having these, typically, four-legged friends in their lives. It’s an incredible thing to think about, too.

I wasn’t a genius in science classes, but I did learn that dogs and humans are not the same species. We can communicate, but the process for this communication is like a very bad improvisational comedy sketch where you don’t know where your partner is going so you just go along with it and hope they are leading you to a good place. Humans and dogs communicate in different languages, but somehow when I say the word ‘outside’, Kirby will bark and confirm his need to go do his business. It’s really a more efficient conversation than some we have with other humans.

We don’t deserve dogs.

For the most part, dogs accept our schedules. There might be some accidents here or there, but they just blindly trust that we’ll eventually come back.

They’re adorable. You and I might think that a certain dog doesn’t exactly have the best look, but there’s always going to be someone out there that thinks said dog is cute.

Pups don’t care if we laugh at them. Kirby didn’t care that I couldn’t stop laughing as he went head-first into the ground and did a somersault because he was running too fast on an incline or when he wiped out on the hardwood floor after chasing a toy. He gets up running with a smile on his face.

Dogs don’t post their political opinions on Facebook.

We don’t deserve dogs.

We all know these things about dogs and the proof in that is the fact that we still have dogs for pets. If we didn’t know this, in that parallel universe, I’d probably be writing about why we don’t deserve penguins. We don’t deserve penguins either with their adorable tuxedo-wearing selves, but that’s a whole different topic.

In this world, there are a lot of things that we are simply not appreciative of enough: our family, our education, really good music, the perfectly baked pizza, etc. On that list is the never-ending love that dogs give us, sometimes we just expect and accept that love. We shouldn’t be taking that love or any kind of love for granted.

If your pup wants to play tug-of-war, play with him. If your dog wants to snuggle, let her. If your dog wants to lick you all over, well… maybe let them and then go wash up.

Dogs have so much love that they just want to give it to virtually everyone that they come in contact with. That’s a beautiful thing. We are at a time in the world where we could all use that love. Love by itself doesn’t heal everything, but there can be no healing in this world without love.

We don’t deserve dogs.

The Plane Truth: the University of Minnesota needs to give Richard Pitino a bigger travel budget

It’s no real secret that the University of Minnesota’s men’s basketball program really hasn’t lifted off under the tutelage of Richard Pitino. It’s widely known that the players that have graced Dinkytown during Pitino’s reign haven’t exactly been the best characters in the world with PR nightmares ranging from sex tapes on social media to an arrest for sexual assault. All of those are big problems, Richard Pitino’s travel expenses, and apparent overages on them, are not a problem.

Pitino’s travel expenses were thrown into the spotlight via the Star Tribune when it was revealed that the young coach had gone past his budgeted $150,000 over the past two fiscal years and had actually spent $325,000 over that span.

First of all, this overspending was approved by then-current Athletic Director Norwood Teague. Can you really overspend your budget when it is approved by your superior? Sure, that superior is a creep and is gone from the University now, but you can’t change the game on Pitino after the game was played.

Second, there is no real reason the University needs to be looking at the books of the athletic department. Athletics are self-funded, they spend the money that they make, and, to the best of my knowledge, are not taking money from the rest of the school. They are basically a standalone entity using the name of the school and its students to run itself. As long as the department isn’t stealing money from academic departments and is still operating at a sustainable level, President Eric Kaler and the Board of Regents should get their nosy noses out of athletics’ business. The nosy-ness probably comes from the hire of Teague and his later dismissal, but this is what happens when you hire an AD that had never overseen a football team before. That hire wasn’t a smart big boy move in a school that should be with the big boys.

Speaking of which, this paragraph is integral in the Star Tribune story:

“Elsewhere, other coaches have bigger private jet budgets. Rick Pitino, Richard’s father and the coach at Louisville, has a reported annual budget of $250,000 for private jet travel. At Kentucky, John Calipari spent more than $342,000 in 2013-14. In the Big Ten, Indiana spent $569,000 on chartered planes for all of its coaches to recruit that year. At Ohio State, Thad Matta is given a budget of $65,000 or roughly 11 hours, for recruiting, as well as an additional 15 hours of jet time for private use.”

His father has four times the budget at Louisville. Conference rival Indiana has over 11 times the budget. Thad Matta at Ohio State has well over double the budget if you factor in the private use hours. If you want to play with the big boys, the $50,000 budget that Pitino has isn’t going to get you anywhere close to the best schools in the country or, more importantly, close to the recruits you need to be successful. Hell, these other schools probably hire someone to fill up their head coaches’ rental car gas tanks, too. Pitino was flagged in the audit for returning rental cars without a full gas tank.

Pitino has this team in a mess, but his overuse of private plans isn’t a problem. The real plain plane problem is the lack of a reasonable travel budget for the head coach of a profitable sport at a Division One school.

Mark Coyle has more than enough on his plate as the new AD of the Gophers, but he should be adjusting the private plane budget before his new business cards are even made. The next basketball coach will greatly enjoy the added privilege if Pitino leads the Gophers to 8-23 again.