Butler returns, rips Timberwolves teammates, execs
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 Wednesday. ESPN reported that 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 said “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 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.”
WINTER DEAD AT 96 >> Tex Winter, the innovative “Triangle Offense” pioneer who assisted Phil Jackson on 11 NBA championship teams with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers, has died. He was 96. Kansas State University said Winter died Wednesday in Manhattan, Kan.
“Tex Winter was a basketball legend and perhaps the finest fundamental teacher in the history of our game,” said Bulls President John Paxson, a former player under Winter.
Winter published “The Triple-Post Offense” in 1962 and teamed with Jackson to use the system to great success with Michael
Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
“I learned so much from Coach Winter. He was a pioneer and a true student of the game,” Jordan said in a statement emailed to the Chicago Tribune.
JOHNSON, KNAUS TO SPLIT >> There will not be an eighth NASCAR title for Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus.
Hendrick Motorsports will split the driver and crew chief — the longest pairing in NASCAR — at the end of a disappointing season. Johnson has not won a race in 17 months and was knocked out of the playoffs in the first round. Johnson and Knaus won their recordtying seventh championship in 2016 but have slumped in the two years since.
“It’s no secret that Chad and Jimmie have experienced their ups and downs over the years,” owner Rick Hendrick said. “They’re fierce competitors, great friends and have immense respect for one another. They also fight like brothers. All three of us agree it’s finally time for new challenges and that a change will benefit them and the organization.”
Johnson and Knaus were partnered in 2002 when Knaus built the No. 48 team as part of a Hendrick expansion.
STANFORD WOMEN PICKED TO FINISH SECOND >> Stanford was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 and Cal fourth when the conference announced the results of the preseason women’s basketball coaches’ poll.
The Cardinal totaled 107 points and one first-place vote. Oregon was the leading vote getter, receiving 11 first-place votes and collecting 121 points. Oregon State was third (104 points), Cal fourth (82 points) and Arizona State (79 points) fifth while UCLA (74 points) closed out the top half of the poll in sixth.
Stanford returns 12 letter winners to a team that went 24-11 and advanced to its 11th consecutive Sweet 16 in 2017-18.
The Bears return 11 players and three starters from last season’s squad that went 21-11, finishing fifth in the Pac-12 and reaching the NCAA Tournament.
REPORT: JONES, GUSTAFSSON TO FIGHT >> UFC has officially booked Jon Jones versus Alexander Gustafsson for UFC 232 on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, multiple sources close to the organization told ESPN. The fight is slated to be for the UFC light heavyweight title.
FEDERER ADVANCES >> Roger Federer had to overcome a second-set stutter. Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev had to overcome illness. All three still advanced at the Shanghai Masters. Federer beat Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the second round.
The third-seeded del Potro trailed in the first set and in the tiebreaker but rebounded both times to beat Richard Gasquet 7-5, 7-6 (7). The fourth-seeded Zverev was also struggling with a cold, but he beat Nicoloz Basilashvili 7-5, 6-4.
PANAMA ELIMINATES MEXICO >> Karla Riley and Lineth Cedeno scored to help Panama upset Mexico 2-0 in their final group stage game at the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup qualifying tournament in Cary, N.C. The loss means that Mexico is eliminated before the knockout round and won’t be a part of the field at next year’s World Cup.
The United States beat Trinidad and Tobago 7-0 and advances to the semifinals Sunday. Rose Lavelle and Alex Morgan scored two goals apiece.
Jimmy Butler practiced with Minnesota for the first time this season Wednesday.