Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves have had quite the eventful day. In a practice that will go down in NBA history, Butler returned to the Timberwolves for the first time since his trade demand. He did not return to be buddy-buddy, however, as Butler spent the practice screaming at front office members, coaches, and teammates. Butler was clearly sending a message to Minnesota: Trade me now, or this isn’t the last time something like this happens.
Butler yelled at everybody, but according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, much of his rage was directed at Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. The two young budding stars of the Timberwolves are players that Butler wants to see more out of and he reportedly let them hear it in practice. According to the report, Towns didn’t respond to Butler’s words, but he was left speechless.
Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates such as “They ain’t [expletive]!” and “They soft!”, league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, league sources said.
Butler naturally wasn’t in the best of shape, league sources said, but he held his own.
At one point, Butler found himself guarding Towns in the post and when the big man received the entry pass, Butler yelled, “He can’t do [expletive] against me!” and Towns ended up kicking the ball out, league sources said.
Neither Towns nor Wiggins confronted Butler at any point, league sources said
Some players were motivated by Butler’s theatrics, but others were distraught and speechless, and most notably Towns, league sources said.
From this point of view, Butler comes off a lot like the school bully that Towns just can’t get rid of. No matter what Towns says or does, Butler screams at him harder and, eventually, it forces Towns into a shell unable to respond. It’s hard to believe that Towns had much reason to go at Butler with force in practice considering everybody knows that Butler is going to eventually be traded, but it’s a little concerning to see him get challenged this way and apparently not respond. Of course, this entire situation is so weird that maybe he didn’t know how to respond.
Perhaps Butler was putting on a show for his eventual ESPN interview. Maybe it was just convenience that ESPN happened to be at Wolves practice today, but shortly after the incident, Butler was doing a sit-down interview with Rachel Nichols about everything that happened. He gave a slightly different account of everything that went down.