The Minnesota Timberwolves have found themselves in an absurd situation. Jimmy Butler returned to practice today, but it was not a pretty sight.
According to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski, the front office for Minnesota was prepared to start the season without trading their disgruntled star (via The Athletic):
“The Timberwolves are moving forward as if there will be no deal before the start of the season. Tom Thibodeau has started reaching out to players on the team to prepare them for the prospects of a deal taking place during the season, not before, sources said.”
As such, it seemed possible that if Butler was returning to practice, perhaps he’d be willing to re-join the squad despite recent rumors and reports of his unhappiness.
Butler had reportedly texted Minnesota players words of encouragement including Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Josh Okogie — which was a positive sign for the organization. However, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski quickly showed that this was false hope.
Wojnarowski reported that Butler was “verbally challenging” the front office and other teammates while practicing in Minnesota. Wojnarowski notes Butler had targeted Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. He reportedly played a scrimmage joining the third-string squad and defeated the starting lineup.
The four-time All-Star was apparently heard yelling at Tom Thibodeau, the head coach and the president of basketball operations for Minnesota, as well as general manager Scott Layden during the practice.
Perhaps the most notable piece of information is that he cursed at Layden and talked about how much the team would suffer without him. His frustration is no secret, but it could not be any more clear after his confrontational return to the organization. Even his relationship with Thibodeau is fractured, despite their previous working relationship on the Chicago Bulls.
According to a staff member for the organization, the scene was as brutal as they had ever seen during a practice for an NBA franchise. If nothing else, it proves once again that the Timberwolves cannot continue to believe that this is a situation they can resolve without a trade.