Butler reportedly held team meeting, preparing to start year with Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS — Jimmy Butler said he was ready to practice again Thursday, a day after he memorably returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves and confronted teammates and the front office. Except there was no practice. The Wolves canceled their previously scheduled practice and media availability set for Thursday in advance of Friday’s preseason finale at Milwaukee, allowing Butler’s eventful Wednesday to simmer without anyone from the organization trying to comment on what happened or try to cast in a positive light.
Instead, Butler reportedly held a players-only meeting Thursday in which he aired “his feelings toward (the) situation and management,” per a tweet from The Athletic. The same tweet said Butler “expressed to players he would compete with them, as signs pointing to him staying with the franchise into the regular season.”
Adding to the confusion, Wolves guard Jeff Teague, in just his second tweet in more than a year, responded to The Athletic’s tweet by saying the report of a players-only meeting was “fake news.” Wolves reserve Darius Johnson-Odom also tweeted, “What meeting lol smh” before later deleting it. But around the same time, Butler reportedly told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that the meeting did, in fact, happen.
ESPN released the full transcript of its Wednesday interview with Butler and in it he confirmed what the Star Tribune and others reported about his meeting with coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau — that this meeting wasn’t the first time Butler told Thibodeau he wanted out of Minnesota.
“It wasn’t a week before (training camp opened),” Butler said. “We’ve been talking all summer long, everybody knew the truth throughout the organization because I’m going to tell you the truth. Like it or not, anybody, fans, whatever. Like it or not, it wasn’t just then, so we can put that to rest. It was not just then.”
The Wolves had offered Butler a four-year, $110 million extension over the summer, but Butler turned it down, insisting that he wanted the Wolves to renegotiate his current contract (which was allowed under the CBA) for five years, $177.2 million.
The Wolves didn’t do that, because it would have necessitated burdensome salary-cap maneuvering to accommodate the deal.