After faltering over the weekend, trade talks between the Timberwolves and Heat are reportedly back in action. Jimmy Butler, the player at the center of those talks who has been conspicuously avoiding his colleagues and who demanded to be shipped out of town by Friday, returned to Minnesota’s practice today. A reasonable person might think that he came back just to say some final goodbyes to his teammates and express to head coach Tom Thibodeau his undying love despite any recent disagreements or long-lost ligaments. That’s not what happened.
Butler had something spicier in mind. Speaking to The Athletic, which has done a thorough job covering this fantastically stupid saga, teammate Anthony Tolliver allowed only that Butler was definitely at practice:
Butler was vociferous and intense throughout scrimmage sessions, targeting president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, league sources said.
As the GM watched on the sidelines during a scrimmage, sources said that Butler yelled to Layden: “You f—-ing need me, Scott. You can’t win without me.”
It was Butler’s first practice with the team since requesting a trade three weeks ago.
Butler participated in multiple intrasquad scrimmages, where he joined the bench units against the starters and went out of his way to challenge the team’s two young stars, Towns and Wiggins, league sources said. Coaches and players were largely speechless at Butler’s tour de force throughout the workout, league sources said.
After gathering more string, Woj, getting tonally weirder and blood-lustier with each tweet, followed his article up by claiming some of Butler’s teammates liked or were at least impressed by this:
Woj also wrote that coaching staff and some teammates have expressed hope that Butler would stay—a hope that has probably been disintegrated by today’s developments. Butler’s behavior sounds like a confusing stew of performance art, fresh beef with previous beef-targets Wiggins and KAT, gratuitous bridge-burning, and expression of his own value to a team already reluctant to trade him.
It might not remain a mystery for long. Butler didn’t get it all out of his system at practice, and has more to share with the world. Hopefully Lil Wayne will be flanking him for no clear reason.