The Jimmy Butler saga had taken a backseat for the first two weeks of the regular season.
But with the Timberwolves off to a 3-4 start, and Butler still stuck on a struggling team he doesn’t want to play for, it appears his efforts to force his way out are ramping up. Early on Wednesday morning, we learned that Butler would reportedly be sitting out the Wolves’ game against the Jazz, though there were conflicting reports about whose idea that was.
Now, Butler himself has commented on the situation. He told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he’s sitting out to rest his sore body — and not as a protest — and will play in their game Friday night against the Warriors.
“Spoke to Jimmy Butler, who told me he plans to sit out of tonight’s Wolves game “because my body is hurting” after he missed nearly all of training camp. He said he doesn’t want to see any soreness escalate into injury as he continues to seek resolution to his situation with Minnesota. He strongly pushed back on any idea he is sitting out tonight as a protest and confirmed Adrian Wojnarowski’s report that [he] plans to fly with the team to Oakland and play against Golden State. He said he plans to be in the arena for tonight’s game as well.”
Butler had played in five of the six Timberwolves games this season and owns averages of 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The Timberwolves star guard was also shooting 48 percent from beyond the arc. Butler is coming off a huge performance against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday in which he scored a game-high 32 points on 12-of-20 shooting and knocked down six of his seven 3-point attempts.
Following Butler’s trade demands over the summer, he made a scene at a team practice days before the regular season began. When Butler finally returned to the team, the disgruntled All-Star reportedly challenged Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, head coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden during practice. In addition, Butler conducted an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and admitted that he is passionate and doesn’t want to sit out regular-season games, which was a promise that he kept good on up until this point. Just 24 hours later, Butler conducted a players-only meeting and other players spoke to Butler during that meeting.
It’s worth noting that Wednesday is the first day that players the Rockets acquired in the offseason can be traded. While nothing is imminent, this certainly becomes another intriguing storyline in one of the biggest stories in the NBA so far this season.