Emotional Jimmy Butler returns to Wolves practice, reportedly challenges teammates
Yes, Jimmy Butler was ... here.
Officially, thats about all that came from post-practice comments Wednesday. Coach Tom Thibodeaus news conference was ended before he was asked whether Butler, still on the trading block but still technically a part of the team nearly a month since requesting a trade, had practiced with the Timberwolves.
He was, Wolves veteran Anthony Tolliver began. Then: He was around. Thats really all I got to say about that.
Said Jeff Teague: Ive seen him.
But it appears the Butler Saga which, since he officially asked for a trade more than three weeks ago, is certainly that took another twist. Back in town, Butler did practice with the team Wednesday for the first time since his Sept. 18 trade request.
That, alone, is big news.
But the way that practice went? Incredible.
According to an ESPN report, Butler not only practiced, but he made his feelings known in an emotional session, reportedly challenging teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, coaches and the front office. At one point, according to ESPNs report, Butler yelled at general manager Scott Layden, saying the team couldnt win without him.
It is a stunning development for a team that, under the cloud of a potential Butler trade, has clearly struggled through the preseason.
But even so, after the practice was over, players claimed that the Butler situation wasnt a distraction for the team.
Ive been around the league, Teague said. Its my tenth year, so I been a part of teams where a lot of things have been going on. Its part of the game. I dont think its distracting me. It may be distracting some other guys. Either way, man, I love Jimmy. Jimmy is my guy. But if hes not here, then weve got a good team, too.
Its one thing to say a pending trade of a star player isnt a distraction. But, if as reported, that star player took part in a contentious practice session with the final preseason game approaching? That could be different.
Tolliver, about to enter his 10th NBA season, said hed never seen anything like this.
But, once again, I learned from a very early age, dont focus on that stuff, because that will ultimately distract you, he said. Im just focused on myself, focused on the guys who are here. Whether hes here or not, well just focus on who is here. Whenever opening night happens, well go out there and play with who weve got.
Meanwhile, ESPN reported that Miami was interested in restarting talks of a Butler trade. The two teams were close to a deal Friday close enough to where the Wolves shared Butlers medical information with the Heat and the owners for both teams were consulted. That is, until the Wolves made 11th-hour demands and talks broke down on a deal that, reportedly, included Miami player Josh Richardson.
Its all a part of situation that, while still fluid, appears to be growing messier.
I love Jimmy, man, Teague said. Him being around and his energy. Hes a good person and his energy is amazing. I mean, I can deal with anything, I can adjust to anything, I can adapt to any situation. So, Im cool.