But­ler bares teeth as Wolves lick wounds

‘Raw’ star’s prac­tice blow-up leaves Min­nesota in tur­moil

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

Dis­grun­tled Jimmy But­ler caused a stir at the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves’ prac­tice on Wed­nes­day, and he wasn’t given a chance to do so again on Thurs­day.

The team called off prac­tice, ac­cord­ing to Jon Krawczyn­ski of The Ath­letic web­site, who added that there would be no me­dia avail­abil­ity as well.

Later on Thurs­day, The Ath­letic’s Shams Cha­ra­nia re­ported that there was a play­ers-only meet­ing be­tween But­ler and his team­mates.

But­ler re­port­edly told the play­ers his is­sues are with team man­age­ment and not with his team­mates.

How­ever, point guard Jeff Teague said on his Twit­ter ac­count that The Ath­letic’s de­scrip­tion of the meet­ing was in­ac­cu­rate.

“It wasn’t no play­ers meet­ing you just made that up bro y’all gotta re­lax with this fake news,” Teague tweeted.

Ac­cord­ing to ESPN, But­ler on Wed­nes­day ver­bally chal­lenged team­mates, coaches and front-of­fice ex­ec­u­tives. Per the re­port, an emo­tional But­ler tar­geted pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions and coach Tom Thi­bodeau, team­mates Karl-An­thony Towns and An­drew Wig­gins and gen­eral man­ager Scott Lay­den, at whom he screamed at one point: “You need me. You can’t win with­out me.”

But­ler has de­manded a trade this off­sea­son and has called out young stars Towns and Wig­gins on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions.

In an in­ter­view with ESPN’s Rachel Ni­chols, But­ler elab­o­rated on his rant.

“I haven’t played bas­ket­ball in so long. I’m so pas­sion­ate,” said the 29-year-old, a four-time All-Star who was traded to Min­nesota be­fore the 2017-18 sea­son.

“I don’t do it for any rea­son but to com­pete. All my emo­tion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can’t con­trol that when I’m out there com­pet­ing. That’s raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. In­side the lines.”

But­ler ap­pears to be con­vinced not all of his team­mates will do what it takes to win.

“I think that’s the part ev­ery­body doesn’t see,” But­ler said. “I’m not go­ing to say no names. I’m go­ing to be hon­est: If your num­ber one pri­or­ity isn’t win­ning, peo­ple can tell. That’s the bat­tle. Now there is a prob­lem be­tween peo­ple. That’s where the dis­con­nect is.”

He said the fact he showed up to prac­tice on Wed­nes­day doesn’t mean he’s happy.

“It’s not fixed,” But­ler told Ni­chols. “Let’s be hon­est.” Can the sit­u­a­tion be fixed? “It could be,” he said. “Do I think so? No.”

NBA round-up

Rus­sell West­brook is mak­ing a swift re­cov­ery from right knee surgery, but his sta­tus re­mains un­cer­tain for the Thun­der’s sea­son opener against the Golden State War­riors on Tues­day.

The seven-time All-Star un­der­went the pro­ce­dure on Sept 12 and was slated to be reeval­u­ated in four weeks, which was Wed­nes­day.

“Ev­ery day for him, he feels bet­ter and bet­ter,” Thun­der coach Billy Dono­van said. “I don’t want to say (if he will play). I know you guys want to know that, but that’s too far out and there will be a lot of things that will go into that de­ci­sion.”

Kerr is join­ing his San An­to­nio Spurs coun­ter­part Gregg Popovich on Team USA.

Kerr was named an as­sis­tant coach for USA Bas­ket­ball and will serve on Popovich’s bench along with In­di­ana Pac­ers coach Nate McMillan and Vil­lanova coach Jay Wright.

The as­sign­ment in­cludes the next two sum­mers, span-

Tokyo.

ex­pand, or­ga­niz­ers in Mon­treal want the league to look north of the bor­der.

A Que­bec busi­ness group led by for­mer fed­eral cab­i­net min­is­ter and sen­a­tor Michael Fortier has spo­ken with NBA com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver, the for­mer told re­porters.

The group has been meet­ing with po­ten­tial in­vestors to ar­range fi­nanc­ing. Fortier es­ti­mated the cost at be­tween $1.5 bil­lion and $2 bil­lion but said no pub­lic fund­ing would be re­quired.

against the War­riors as a Laker drew nearly two mil­lion view­ers, mak­ing it ESPN’s most-watched pre­sea­son con­test ever.

The Lak­ers’ 123-113 vic­tory on Wed­nes­day night in Las Ve­gas was watched by 1.98 mil­lion peo­ple, the net­work re­vealed on Thurs­day. A spokesman said that is the most view­ers for an NBA pre­sea­son game on any net­work since at least 1994, which is as far back as the records go.

James de­vel­oped a ri­valry with the War­riors while meet­ing them in a record four straight NBA Fi­nals while he played in Cleve­land. His move to Los An­ge­les in July put him in the same di­vi­sion as the two-time de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons.

AP FILE

Jimmy But­ler blasted his Min­nesota team­mates and coaches dur­ing prac­tice on Wed­nes­day, with the 29-year-old at one point re­port­edly scream­ing: “You can’t win with­out me.”

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