Disgruntled Minnesota star Jimmy Butler is not with the team as the Timberwolves prepare for their final preseason game Friday night in Milwaukee.
The Timberwolves, who canceled practice Thursday after Butler caused a stir in a Wednesday scrimmage, will face the Milwaukee Bucks while Butler stays in Minneapolis to “work on his conditioning,” coach Tom Thibodeau said, per ESPN.
The Timberwolves open the regular season against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.
Butler told teammates his issues are with team management and not with players during what he reportedly called a player’s-only meeting on Thursday.
According to ESPN, Butler on Wednesday verbally challenged teammates, coaches and front office executives. Per the report, an emotional Butler targeted president of basketball operations and coach Thibodeau, teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins and general manager Scott Layden, at whom he screamed at one point, “You (expletive) need me. You can’t win without me.”
Butler demanded a trade this offseason and has called out young stars Towns and Wiggins on a number of occasions.
In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols after the practice, Butler explained his actions.
“I haven’t played basketball in so long. I’m so passionate,” said Butler, 29, a four-time All-Star who was traded to Minnesota before the 2017-18 season. “I don’t do it for any reason but to compete. All my emotion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. Inside the lines.”
Butler appears to be convinced not all of his teammates will do what it takes to win.
“I think that’s the part everybody doesn’t see,” Butler said. “I’m not going to say no names. I’m going to be honest: If your No. 1 priority isn’t winning, people can tell. That’s the battle. Now there is a problem between people. That’s where the disconnect is.”
He said the fact he showed up to practice on Wednesday doesn’t mean he’s happy.
“It’s not fixed,” Butler told Nichols. “Let’s be honest.”