Timberwolves take day off, but Jimmy Butler drama charges full steam ahead
MINNEAPOLIS — On Wednesday, Oct. 10, the Timberwolves held an emotionally-charged practice headed by Jimmy Butler, who made his return to the court with the team he wants to be traded from. Butler reportedly challenged teammates, coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden.
Shortly thereafter, Butler conducted an interview with ESPN in which he aired all of his issues and history with the team for all to see. In that interview, Butler confirmed he would also attend Thursday's practice.
But on Thursday morning, practice was cancelled. And with it, so too was media availability. Still, this saga stops for no one. The drama train continued to charge forward.
Butler supposedly held a players-only meeting with his Timberwolves teammates Thursday, where he stated his problems with management and said he would indeed compete alongside his teammates so long as he was still with the club. That was all reported by The Athletic's Shams Charania, then confirmed by ESPN's Rachel Nichols via a text message ... from Jimmy Butler.
But a couple members of the Timberwolves — point guard Jeff Teague and player development coach John Lucas III — tweeted at Charania to challenge the report.
"It wasn't no players meeting you just made that up bro y'all gotta relax with this fake news," Teague tweeted at Charania.
That's not the only conflicting account in this saga. On media day, Thibodeau claimed his pre-training camp meeting with Butler in Los Angeles was the first time Butler requested a trade from the Timberwolves. But Butler told Nichols he met with Thibodeau four days after last season's conclusion and made his intentions clear.
"I was completely honest about everything," Butler told Nichols. "About everything."
The Timberwolves didn't — or couldn't — clear the cap space necessary to offer Butler a renegotiated five-year, $177 million contract this offseason, instead offering him the four-year, $110 million deal the collective bargaining agreement allowed them to make given their cap situation. But Butler told Nichols his beef with Minnesota isn't about money.
"It's about saying we need you. We want you here. We can't do this without you. And that was the disconnect all along," Butler said. "You're saying one thing and you're saying it, and you're saying it. I mean, I've learned enough times in life that saying something is completely different than acting upon it. Actions speak louder than words, whatever quote you want to use.
"And when it came to that point, it was like I let y'all know what the deal was as soon as you traded for me. I told you the truth from Day 1 and I will continue to do it. And I did it. It's kinda like, I don't know, a slap in the face? I don't know how to put it, but it made me think like maybe I'm not that important to your organization. That is how I took it."
It's not known if Butler will play in Minnesota's preseason finale Friday in Milwaukee. The Wolves open the regular season on Oct. 17 at San Antonio.