But­ler makes noise at his first prac­tice

Min­nesota star says he wants to be traded

The Star Democrat - - SPORTS - By TIM REYNOLDS AP Bas­ket­ball Writer

Jimmy But­ler is back with the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves, and his first prac­tice of the sea­son had fire­works.

He caused them — with his words and his play.

But­ler, who asked for a trade more than three weeks ago, prac­ticed with the Tim­ber­wolves for the first time this sea­son in Min­neapo­lis on Wed­nes­day. ESPN re­ported But­ler ver­bally chal­lenged play­ers, coaches and even gen­eral man­ager Scott Lay­den in the prac­tice, dur­ing which But­ler dom­i­nated the team’s scrim­mages even when go­ing up against stars like Karl-An­thony Towns and An­drew Wig­gins.

In an in­ter­view taped with ESPN af­ter prac­tice, But­ler ac­knowl­edged that “a lot” of the net­work’s re­port was true and that the scene in prac­tice was him just show­ing pas­sion and be­ing “bru­tally hon­est.”

“All my emo­tion came out at one time,” But­ler said in the in­ter­view. “Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t con­trol that when I’m out there com­pet­ing. That’s my love of the game. That’s raw me. Me at my finest, me at my purest. That’s what you’re go­ing to get in­side the lines.”

The four-time NBA All-Star said he warned coach Tom Thi­bodeau be­fore prac­tice that he would let his emo­tions out if he played, and that’s ap­par­ently what happened.

“I haven’t played bas­ket­ball in so long,” But­ler said dur­ing the in­ter­view. “And I’m so pas­sion­ate and I love the game and I don’t do it for any other rea­son ex­cept for to com­pete and go up against the best to try to prove that I can hang.”

This saga started in mid-Septem­ber, when it be­came known that But­ler told Thi­bodeau that he wanted a trade. Thi­bodeau has said the team will tr y to make But­ler happy, but has cau­tioned through­out the process that Min­nesota will only do a deal that it deems is good for Min­nesota.

“We’re al­ways go­ing to do what’s best for the team,” Thi­bodeau said. “That’s the im­por­tant thing for everyone to un­der­stand, and if that means he’s here, then he’ll be here.”

Thi­bodeau lauded But­ler’s fire af­ter prac­tice Wed­nes­day.

“If he’s here, or he’s some­where else, once he gets there or he’s here, he’s go­ing to give you ever ything he has,” Thi­bodeau said. “He’s a com­peti­tor.”

But­ler is a four-time All-Star who was Min­nesota’s lead­ing scorer last sea­son and helped the Wolves snap a 14-year play­off drought. He can ex­er­cise his right to be­come a free agent af­ter this sea­son and com­mand a deal that might be worth up to $190 mil­lion. So as if a trade in­volv­ing some­one as tal­ented as But­ler wasn’t enough of a chal­lenge, there’s also his loom­ing con­tract sit­u­a­tion for po­ten­tial suit­ors to con­sider.

The Tim­ber­wolves have had talks with sev­eral teams since But­ler made the re­quest — in­clud­ing Mi­ami — and nearly got a deal done with the Heat over the week­end. But those ne­go­ti­a­tions broke down, a per­son with di­rect knowl­edge of the talks told The Associated Press. The per­son said on Wed­nes­day that the Heat have not ini­ti­ated any fur­ther con­ver­sa­tion with Min­nesota since. The per­son spoke to the AP on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause de­tails of the trade talks have not been pub­licly dis­closed.

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