The Minnesota Timberwolves ruled out guard Jimmy Butler for Wednesday’s 128-125 home win over the Utah Jazz for “precautionary rest,” but Butler said he intends to join the team for Friday’s game at the Golden State Warriors.
Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Wednesday that he doesn’t want any soreness from playing in games after missing training camp to escalate into an injury.
“Because my body is hurting and I don’t want to go out there and risk an injury, people make stuff up?” Butler said in a text to Nichols. “What are they going to do when I show up and hoop on Friday?”
The Timberwolves remain stagnant in trade talks for Butler. While Houston, Miami and Philadelphia are among the teams struggling early that have an interest in Butler, there is a collective belief that Timberwolves president and coach Tom Thibodeau isn’t ready to seriously negotiate a trade yet, league sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thibodeau discussed with Butler and the team’s medical staff his absence for Wednesday’s game, and the team announced Butler would sit out for “general soreness and precautionary rest.”
Butler and his representative continue to express frustration in what they believe is Minnesota’s inaction in honoring Butler’s trade request, and they have been pushing owner Glen Taylor to speed up the process, sources said.
Butler scored 32 points in 37 minutes in Minnesota’s home win Monday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, including all five of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. Players didn’t practice Tuesday, however, which made the need to sideline the four-time All-Star shooting guard on Wednesday peculiar. Butler did not travel with the team to Dallas for its Oct. 20 game, but that planned absence in a loss to the Mavericks came after he played the night before in the home opener.
“We knew going in that when you miss training camp like he did, that basically this is his training camp, so there’s soreness involved,” Thibodeau said Wednesday. “We talk to him, see how he’s feeling. When he has soreness, there’s going to be precautionary rest.”
The Wolves also ruled point guard Jeff Teague out Wednesday with a sore left knee. He bruised it during the game against the Lakers when he banged it against LeBron James‘ knee. Thibodeau said Teague had precautionary X-rays taken after reporting soreness and swelling.
Andrew Wiggins played Wednesday after missing three straight games with a strained right quadriceps. He had 19 points in the victory.
The absences of Butler and Wiggins from their spots on the wing have allowed rookie Josh Okogie to see extended playing time. Okogie, the first-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, went 6-for-17 against the Lakers for a career-best 17 points.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got that next-man-up mentality,” power forward Taj Gibson said. “So far, Josh has been a great surprise for us.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.