But­ler re­port­edly held team meet­ing, pre­par­ing to start year with Wolves

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - — Chris Hine, Star Tri­bune (Min­neapo­lis)

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.

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