Wolves star Butler back in lineup, coach says
Timberwolves disgruntled star Jimmy Butler missed Minnesota's game Wednesday against Utah, but his coach says Butler will be in the starting lineup Friday night at Golden State.
Coach Tom Thibodeau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Butler's absence on Wednesday was the result of "general soreness" from missing training camp with his holdout and the need for a game off, not his preseason demand to be traded.
Butler expressed the same sentiment and questioned why people would think he was protesting still being with the team by sitting out. "Because my body is hurting and I don't want to go out there and risk an injury, people make stuff up?" he told ESPN.
There were multiple reports this week that Butler's absence is actually the player's latest attempt to get traded.
The Athletic reported that Butler chose to sit out the game and informed Thibodeau of his decision early Wednesday. The report added Butler is treating this as "the next step" in a "process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota ... and it could lead to an extended absence."
Butler, 29, requested a trade during the preseason and has told Minnesota he plans to become an unrestricted free agent following the season. The situation grew worse as the season neared, with Butler not joining the team until a week before the season began.
Butler is entering the fourth season of a five-year, $92.3 million contract he signed with Chicago in 2015, but he can enter the free agent market next summer by opting out of the final year. He is scheduled to earn a base salary of $18.7 million in 2018-19.
The Timberwolves are off to a 4-4 start, having defeated the Jazz on Wednesday, led by a 50-point night from Derrick Rose.
In six games, Butler, who is in his eighth NBA season, is averaging 22.5 points, six points above his career average. He played his first six seasons with the Chicago Bulls, before being traded to the Timberwolves before the 2017-18 season.
Butler was a first-round draft choice, the 30th selection overall, in the 2011 draft.
--Field Level Media
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