Following practice Wednesday, Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau told the media that star swingman Jimmy Butler will miss that night’s game against the Utah Jazz because of “general soreness and precautionary rest.”
But according to multiple reports, Butler’s absence is actually the player’s latest attempt to get traded out of Minneapolis.
The Athletic reported that Butler chose to sit out the game, and informed Thibodeau of his decision early Wednesday. It adds that Butler is treating this as “the next step” in a “process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota ... and it could lead to an extended absence.”
It is not clear, per the report, whether Butler plans to play or sit out the T-wolves’ next game, Friday in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors to start a five-game road trip.
Thibodeau would not confirm with certainty to reporters that Butler will be on the trip.
Meanwhile, ESPN reported the Timberwolves suggested Butler rest against the Jazz and expect him to join the team on its flight to face Golden State. That report adds that Minnesota’s asking price in a trade remains steep.
Butler, 29, requested a trade during the preseason and has told Minnesota he plans to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. The situation grew worse as the season neared, with Butler not joining the team until a week before the season began.
In his first practice back, Butler reportedly verbally challenged teammates, coaches and front office executives, and left many speechless. During the tirade, Butler reportedly targeted Thibodeau, teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and general manager Scott Layden, at whom he screamed at one point, “You need me. You can’t win without me.”
Thibodeau also announced Wednesday that Jeff Teague will miss the Utah game with a knee contusion. Wiggins, who has missed Minnesota’s last three games because of a right quad contusion, “should be ready” to play, according to Thibodeau. He will take part in pregame warmups before a final decision is made.
—Field Level Media