MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to just go about their business during trying times.
Jimmy Butler’s situation has cast a shadow over training camp. With the season just over a week away, there is little resolution. WCCO’s Mike Max has more.
It’s not who is here for practice that gets your attention, it is who is not here for practice that creates the story line.
“Ongoing,” Timberwolves Coach and President of Basketball Operations Tom Thibodeau said.
He’s not being fined for his absence, and even his teammates in Chicago and Minnesota claim they know little.
“I haven’t been able to talk to him. I’ve just been focusing on the guys that’s in the gym with us. We have so many different guys here trying to just compete and get minutes,” forward Taj Gibson said.
There are some that still hold out hope that Jimmy Butler could still be a member of this team this year. That’s fading, because there’s no reason he’s not here if that’s the case.
Granted, it’s just the preseason, but what has been displayed is a team that needs something more. Butler or some other piece to the puzzle. But the coach is having assume this is the lineup for now.
“We focus on the guys that are here, get ready for the season. Don’t get sidetracked and just lock into what we have to do,” Thibodeau said.
Butler already declined a four-year, $110 million maximum contract from the Timberwolves in the offseason, knowing he was in the final year of his contract and would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2018-19 season. If he doesn’t want to stay in Minnesota, it’s in the Timberwolves’ best interest to find a track package for him and avoid letting him leave without getting anything in return.
Butler helped lead the Timberwolves to their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons last year, despite missing significant time in the second half due to a knee injury.
Butler didn’t travel with the team for preseason games and hasn’t attended a single team workout since his original request for a trade.
The Timberwolves open the regular season Oct. 17 at San Antonio.