David Zalubowski/Associated Press
Butler, who’s been away from the team for much of training camp and the preseason while seeking a trade, didn’t hold back in his return.
The 29-year-old Houston native reportedly challenged many of the Wolves’ top players, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, during a scrimmage session where he beat the team’s top unit alongside reserve players, per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com.
He also took aim at general manager Scott Layden and head coach Tom Thibodeau during the tense practice, after which players reportedly left “energized.”
“You f–king need me, Scott,” Butler allegedly said. “You can’t win without me.”
When asked about the report, Butler said Wednesday during an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that “a lot of it is true:”
“All my emotion came out at one time.”
Jimmy Butler sat down with @Rachel__Nichols to talk about today’s practice and what led to it. See more on SportsCenter at 6 ET and NBA Countdown at 7 ET 📺 https://t.co/znPpDwyW9y
The impending conversation with Nichols makes the situation seem more like performance art from Butler than a sudden release of emotion, but it might be having the desired impact.
Minnesota’s decision to cancel practice and meetings with the media suggests the team doesn’t want the situation to become even more of a distraction, and it might force the front office’s hand toward a trade.
The Miami Heat have been the most aggressive team in the Butler pursuit and remain interested despite the collapse of previous trade talks, per Wojnarowski.
Although the endgame is still uncertain, it’s hard to imagine Butler will be in a Timberwolves jersey when they kick off the regular season Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs.