In an apparent effort to mend fences with his erstwhile Minnesota Timberwolves teammates after an expletive-laden practice tirade, All-Star wing Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting to air his grievances with the franchise he no longer wants to be a part of, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting today, airing his feelings toward situation and management, per league sources. Butler expressed to players he would compete with them, as signs pointing to him staying with the franchise into the regular season.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 11, 2018
While Butler maintains that he made known to management his desire to be traded before the start of the regular season, that message was reportedly only made clear to coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau a week before the start of training camp. That drove down the 2019 free agent’s trade value, and while the Timberwolves have entertained his request, they have yet to find a deal that approaches the one they made to acquire Butler a year ago, and a stalemate has resulted.
With the Wolves urging Butler to return to the team while they continue to pursue deals from a host of suitors, most notably the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets, the four-time All-Star showed up late on Wednesday to his first practice of the season, subbed into a scrimmage and directed profanity-laced trash talk at his teammates, coach and general manager before walking out, per multiple reports.
“You f—ing need me,” Butler told his team, according to ESPN. “You can’t win without me.”
Unbeknownst to the organization, Butler then sat down for an arranged interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and proceeded to blast his teammates again, namely young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Reported reactions from Butler’s teammates ranged from praise to bewilderment.
Thibodeau called off practice on Thursday, less than a week before the start of the season. Instead, according to Charania, Butler led a players-only meeting that saw only a couple teammates talk and was highlighted by the same message from Butler: “I run this.” Which surely went over just as well.
Butler spoke like a man who is planning to play with his Timberwolves teammates, if he remains on the roster to start the season, because “he’s far too competitive to sit real games,” per Charania. He’s also due to make $18.7 million from Minnesota if he doesn’t willfully sit out regular-season games.
It’s hard to imagine the Wolves would allow the circus act that was Butler’s whirlwind Wednesday to be broadcast on TV during actual competition, which is probably why Butler is acting in this manner after recently reiterating his trade request, but then again this saga is filled with the unimaginable.
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