Jimmy Butler’s recent outburst after rejoining his teammates during Wednesday’s practice at the Mayo Clinic Square facility is much more than meets the eye, going beyond an angry All-Star and his desire to seek payback and embarrass his younger teammates after beating them in a high-octane scrimmage with the help of the third-stringers. It’s a last-minute cry to seek his way out of the Minnesota Timberwolves organization, one he’s hoping rings loud across The Association.
There are several ways to look at his public outburst, but the first one hinges in understanding his utter frustration with the organization for holding onto him against his will.
To revisit the chain of events, Butler had told president/head coach Tom Thibodeau of his desire to part ways with the team a mere four days after their playoff run ended in a 4-1 series defeat against the Houston Rockets, as he said in his interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. The second time came in a Los Angeles-based meeting with Thibodeau and Scott Layden, in which he made clear he no longer wanted to suit up in a Timberwolves jersey.
Upon Thibodeau’s insistence, Butler met with his coach once again right before Media Day, turning down his offer to return to the team and play out the season, one that had him seek out owner Glen Taylor personally to ensure trade talks were still being handled in good faith.
Recently, Jimmy Butler gave the Wolves front office an ultimatum after talks with the Miami Heat; his preferred destination, stalled — even after Heat president Pat Riley included his prized possession in three-and-D extraordinaire Josh Richardson after weeks of keeping him off trade conversations.
The All-Star forward rejoined the team on Tuesday and suited up for practice yesterday in the ultimate delivery of his promise, after warning Thibodeau and Taylor this is what would take place if he was ever forced back into a Timberwolves jersey.
“In a meeting on Monday, Butler told Thibodeau this is how it would go, sources said. He wasn’t going to sit by and be quiet and have his desires ignored. Butler had also made clear that he wanted to sit down to discuss several issues with Towns, including the timing of his contract signing, as a means to challenge the young center about being up front and honest, league sources said. It is unclear if that meeting has taken place…
In several conversations over the previous few weeks, Jimmy Butler had told owner Glen Taylor of similar plans to make life difficult for the Wolves should he return, only to cool down each time and finish the call professing to be a professional if it ever got to that point.”
Butler’s antics could be seen as a large tantrum, but his profanity-laced frustrations, lashing at the young tandem of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Town and the front office pairing of Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden can be attributed to how transparent he was with the team from the get-go, hoping to give them enough time to seek out a suitable trade.
This was Butler’s way to say this is what awaits you for every practice you keep me here, previewing the living hell he can turn the practice floor into when given the unwanted opportunity to take the court.
The Timberwolves have been reportedly prepared to start the season with Butler in the roster, which has brought utter skepticism around the league of whether Thibodeau and company were ever sincerely interested in moving Butler, or just stalling until the regular season, giving Butler no option but to play or be fined.
Butler’s antics were viewed as out of line by some, and as the usual Jimmy by others familiar with his confrontational, trash-talking style — while the professionalism toes the line of a maniacally-competitive athlete at his best and a frustrated diva throwing a tantrum in front of everyone in attendance — the sentiment is still the same — trade me, trade me, just f***ing trade me.