Would Jimmy Butler be welcomed back? Timberwolves say yes
MINNEAPOLIS — Now less than two weeks from the start of the regular season, Jimmy Butler remains on the Timberwolves' roster — more than two weeks after his trade request was made public. Which raises the question: Will Butler, in fact, start the season in Minnesota?
"It would be nice," guard Jeff Teague said.
The All-NBA wing still isn't with the team, but ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Butler has no plans to miss regular-season games, and Minnesota hasn't exactly expedited trade negotiations.
Asked for an update on the process Friday, Oct. 5, Wolves coach and general manager Tom Thibodeau said "it's all fluid."
Thibodeau said there's no set date for Butler to return to the club if he's not traded. That's a softer stance than the one Thibodeau made back on media day, when he said Butler would have a week to rehab and condition before returning to the team.
"We're trying to do what's best for the team," Thibodeau said Friday. "So, we're focused on the guys that are here; I think that's the important part. Obviously, we're trying to get something done. We'll approach it as it comes."
From afar, it appears a Butler return would create a toxic atmosphere in the locker room, but that's not the impression Timberwolves players gave Friday. Andrew Wiggins said Butler is "always a plus," and would be for any team.
"It's only going to make us better at the end of the day," Wiggins said of a potential Butler return.
Jeff Teague has stayed in regular contact with the all-star wing.
"I talk to him all the time; that's my guy," Teague said. "We're friends off the court, not just friends on the court. ... I don't really get caught up into what he has going on with this whole situation, but he's my friend."
Teague would like to see Butler stay in Minnesota, and hinted that Butler's professionalism would help any reintegration.
"I know he's going to come in, work hard, and we all know that," Teague said. "He's a team guy and gives it all. So, I think he'll be accepted. But I guess we'll see."
Taj Gibson, another friend of Butler's, hasn't thought about that possibility yet. Like Thibodeau, he said he is focusing on the guys currently in the locker room.
"Because they're putting a lot of work in," Gibson said. "Guys are coming in early, two hours early before practice, full sweat. My objective is just to go out there and try to help the guys we have here. Hopefully everything has a positive outlook (with Butler) and comes back together, but right now I have to just focus on who's here."