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 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.