Butler misses Timberwolves shootaround
Jimmy Butler was absent as the Minnesota Timberwolves wrapped up preparations for their pre-season finale Friday. Butler has demanded a trade but returned to practice with the team Wednesday, a session that included him verbally challenging teammates and coaches. He was not with the team at Friday’s shootaround in Milwaukee. Coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler was doing conditioning work in Minneapolis and had not been suspended.
Asked if Butler would play in Minnesota’s regular-season opener at San Antonio next Wednesday, Thibodeau said: “The situation remains fluid.”
Butler told ESPN following Wednesday’s practice that his issues with the Timberwolves have not been fixed.
“Let’s just be honest. It could be,” Butler said. “But do I think so? No.” Centre Karl-Anthony Towns would not address what happened at that practice or whether a players’ meeting was held Thursday. “I think the only thing that needs to be clarified is we’re excited to pick up a basketball here today in Milwaukee,” Towns said. Asked if he would be happy to play with Butler in the season opener, Towns said, “I’m happy to play basketball with anybody.” Butler will be a free agent at the end of the season and would be eligible to sign a five-year deal with Minnesota at that point. Young stars Towns and Andrew Wiggins have signed five-year contracts with the team.
Butler told ESPN he was waiting for one of his teammates to stand up to him, but it never happened. “If we would have thought it was serious, we would have, but we didn’t think it was that serious,” Taj Gibson said.
The Timberwolves have had talks with several teams. Thibodeau said he would not comment on Butler’s reported criticism of Towns and Wiggins.