Jimmy Butler is still suiting up for the Minnesota Timberwolves, with the opener three days away.
Despite his preference to play elsewhere, signs have begun to point to him staying with the Timberwolves to start the season. Butler took part in practice on Sunday, the second time he has done so since training camp began with his trade request as the focal point of the team.
“They want me to go out here and hoop to the best of my abilities,” Butler said. “Make sure I'm healthy, compete, because that's what I love to do, and do it for the guys in the same jerseys as me.”
Butler made a surprising, and reportedly disruptive, appearance with the Timberwolves during their workout on Wednesday. They canceled practice on Thursday, after Butler went on ESPN to try to explain his motivations and frustrations in a wide-ranging interview that included criticism of the consistency of the effort by teammates Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. When the Wolves played a preseason game in Milwaukee on Friday, Butler stayed back. The team was off on Saturday.
“I can go out there and I can play,” Butler said. “It's all about playing hard. I think I can do that. When I'm gassed and I'm tired, I'll look down at Thibs and say, `Thibs, I need a break.“’
Though Butler stopped short of assuring his presence on the court on Wednesday when the Wolves visit San Antonio, coach Tom Thibodeau said he expected Butler to play against the Spurs as long as he remains on the roster. The official stance of Thibodeau, who serves as the president of basketball operations, and general manager Scott Layden over the last three weeks has been that the Wolves will deal Butler if it makes sense for the direction of the team.
“Everything's fluid,” Thibodeau said. “We'll continue to work through things.”
Asked whether his relationship with Wolves management has changed, Butler said no. As for whether he's still seeking a trade?
“Maybe,” he said. “I'm going to be passive-aggressive like everybody else.”
The Wolves face Cleveland in their first home game on Friday.
Richard Jefferson announced on Instagram that he is retiring from the NBA after 17 seasons.
Jefferson, a Los Angeles native who was a McDonald’s All-American at Moon Valley High in West Phoenix, had a stellar career at Arizona before he was drafted by the Houston Rockets with the 13th overall pick in the 2001 draft. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 12.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists while playing for eight teams.