Ge­orge sides with But­ler

Ok­la­homa City’s Paul Ge­orge is tak­ing the side of Jimmy But­ler, who has re­quested to be traded out of Min­nesota.

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - Erik Horne ehorne@ ok­la­

The saga of Jimmy But­ler in Min­nesota has reached across the en­tire NBA land­scape, even to Ok­la­homa City.

The Thun­der played against the Tim­ber­wolves with­out But­ler last week, as the All-Star has re­quested a trade in pre­sea­son. Since then, But­ler re­turned to a Min­nesota prac­tice and chal­lenged play­ers and the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Thun­der for­ward Paul Ge­orge was asked about the But­ler-Min­nesota drama on Fri­day.

“Jimmy has a very valid point,” Ge­orge said. “I’m on Jimmy’s side. It’s not com­ing from a place where he’s go­ing against an or­ga­ni­za­tion."

But­ler hadn’t prac­ticed all pre­sea­son be­fore re­turn­ing to the Tim­ber­wolves on Wednesday and re­port­edly chal­leng­ing team­mates Karl-An­thony Towns and An­drew Wig­gins, and telling gen­eral man­ager Scott Lay­den “You (ex­ple­tive) need me.” The Tim­ber­wolves of­fered But­ler a four-year, $100 mil­lion con­tract this off­sea­son, which he de­clined in July.

Ge­orge is fa­mil­iar with the tricky dy­nam­ics of want­ing out. Be­fore he was traded to Ok­la­homa City in 2017, Ge­orge told the In­di­ana Pac­ers he would be­come a free agent in 2018 and wouldn’t re­turn to the Pac­ers af­ter his con­tract was up.

But Ge­orge and his rep­re­sen­ta­tion made his feel­ings known in April af­ter the sea­son, not a few weeks be­fore the start of the reg­u­lar sea­son.

Still, Ge­orge, who said he’s talked to But­ler “a lit­tle bit” about what’s go­ing on, backs what But­ler’s mind is at.

“Jimmy’s a guy (who) his whole ca­reer has made it off of work, off him hav­ing to grind and scratch and claw to get where he’s at,” Ge­orge said. “And then he sees the po­ten­tial that he has around him and he just wants guys to match that, be­cause if guys are skilled and have that ‘it’ like KAT (Karl An­thony-Towns) has, like An­drew Wig­gins has ... they have that ‘it’ that a lot of guys don’t have. Now they just have to match it with what Jimmy is bring­ing to the ta­ble.

“I’m all for what Jimmy’s try­ing to do over there. Jimmy’s not go­ing against an or­ga­ni­za­tion. He wants the best for that or­ga­ni­za­tion and he’s try­ing to bring out ev­ery­thing for that or­ga­ni­za­tion to get to where they want to get to.”

Ab­del Nader on the mend

Ab­dul Nader had a pre­sea­son to for­get be­cause he didn’t have one.

Ac­quired by the Thun­der in a late July trade with Bos­ton, Nader has bat­tled left knee sore­ness that has kept him out of prac­tice and forced him to miss all four pre­sea­son games. Thun­der coach Billy Dono­van openly ad­mit­ted Thurs­day that he doesn’t know how Nader will fit on the court be­cause of how lit­tle the 24-year-old wing has been able to do in prac­tice.

But Dono­van said Fri­day that Nader went through a good por­tion of Thun­der prac­tice.

Ter­rance Fer­gu­son did not prac­tice Fri­day. The 20-yearold is still in the NBA’s con­cus­sion pro­to­col af­ter sus­tain­ing a con­cus­sion in Sun­day’s pre­sea­son game against At­lanta. Fer­gu­son’s sta­tus for the Thun­der’s reg­u­lar-sea­son opener against Golden State on Oct. 16 re­mains in doubt, as the Thun­der has two prac­tice days re­main­ing be­fore the game.


The Thun­der waived camp signees Ab­dul Gaddy, Dez Wells, Donte Gran­tham and Scotty Hop­son on Fri­day, trim­ming its ros­ter to 14 guar­an­teed con­tracts, 16 to­tal con­tracts in­clud­ing two-way play­ers Deonte Bur­ton and Tyler Davis.


For­mer Ok­la­homa City Thun­der stand­out Carmelo An­thony, right, puts up a shot over Min­nesota’s Jimmy But­ler dur­ing a game last Oc­to­ber. But­ler has asked the Tim­ber­wolves for a trade af­ter de­clin­ing a four-year, $100 mil­lion con­tract.

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