Tim­ber­wolves’ But­ler misses pre­sea­son fi­nale

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SCOREBOARD -

Min­nesota guard Jimmy But­ler was ab­sent as the Tim­ber­wolves wrapped up their pre­sea­son sched­ule with a 143-121 loss to the Mil­wau­kee Bucks on Fri­day.

But­ler has de­manded a trade but re­turned to prac­tice with the team Wed­nes­day, a ses­sion that in­cluded him ver­bally chal­leng­ing team­mates and coaches.

Coach Tom Thi­bodeau, speak­ing pub­licly for the first time since Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice, said But­ler was do­ing con­di­tion­ing work in Min­neapo­lis and had not been sus­pended.

Asked if But­ler would play in Min­nesota’s reg­u­lar-sea­son opener at San An­to­nio next Wed­nes­day, Thi­bodeau said: “The sit­u­a­tion re­mains fluid.”

But­ler told ESPN fol­low­ing Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice that his is­sues with the Tim­ber­wolves have not been fixed.

“Let’s just be hon­est. It could be,” But­ler said in the in­ter­view. “But do I think so? No.”

Cen­ter Karl-An­thony Towns would not ad­dress what hap­pened at that prac­tice or whether a play­ers meet­ing was held Thurs­day.

“I think the only thing that needs to be clar­i­fied is we’re ex­cited to pick up a bas­ket­ball here to­day in Mil­wau­kee,” Towns said. Asked if he would be happy to play with But­ler in the sea­son opener, Towns said, “I’m happy to play bas­ket­ball with any­body.”

But­ler will be a free agent af­ter the sea­son and would be el­i­gi­ble to sign a five-year deal at that point. Towns and An­drew Wig­gins have signed five-year con­tracts with the Tim­ber­wolves.

Min­nesota for­ward Taj Gib­son, who played with But­ler in Chicago, said he did not think Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice was out of the or­di­nary.

“I felt it was like a nor­mal prac­tice, but it was new for guys,” Gib­son said. “It’s only our sec­ond year to­gether (in Min­nesota), but I’ve been around Jimmy for a long time.

“We al­ways had prac­tices like that in Chicago. It was al­ways a good com­pe­ti­tion, and at the end of the prac­tice ev­ery­body shook up and we still un­der­stood we were team­mates.”

Now­itzki still re­cov­er­ing: Dal­las for­ward Dirk Now­itzki’s de­but in his record 21st sea­son with the Mav­er­icks won’t be in the opener.

Coach Rick Carlisle said Now­itzki, 40, will miss “mul­ti­ple weeks” as he con­tin­ues to re­cover af­ter hav­ing left an­kle surgery in April. The Mav­er­icks open the sea­son Wed­nes­day in Phoenix.

De­pleted Spurs: San An­to­nio point guard Der­rick White is ex­pected to be side­lined for at least six weeks af­ter in­jur­ing his left heel Wed­nes­day dur­ing a pre­sea­son game against the At­lanta Hawks. It was White’s first game as a starter since re­plac­ing De­jounte Mur­ray, who was lost for the sea­son with a torn ACL.

For­mer St. Mary’s stand­out Patty Mills is ex­pected to start in White’s place.

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