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Andrew Wiggins on Jimmy Butler: 'We've Always Been Cool' Despite Controversy

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2018

SAN ANTONIO,TX - OCTOBER 17 :  Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jimmy Buttler talk after a foul called against the San Antonio Spurs in season opener at AT&T Center on October 17 , 2018  in San Antonio, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
Ronald Cortes/Getty Images

Minnesota Timberwolves star Andrew Wiggins denied the presence of any animosity between him and teammate Jimmy Butler since Butler arrived in Minneapolis last season.

"We've always been cool," Wiggins said Wednesday, per Sportsnet's Michael Grange. "Even after all that stuff happened this summer, from what people made it seem like, nothing happened. We always cool. even the first time I seen him during training camp and we talked, there was never no problem."

The Sporting News' Sean Deveney reported in June that Butler "had problems last season with Wiggins, his work ethic and his approach on the defensive end of the floor" and that Butler's presence didn't positively impact Wiggins' development as the Timberwolves had hoped.

Then came Butler's trade request in September. Wiggins' brother Nick had an interesting reaction to the news.

Matt Ellentuck @mellentuck

it's september, jimmy butler just requested a trade, and now andrew wiggins' brother is throwing up hallelujah tweets in response this league never stops https://t.co/Ev0RGLUGVw

That elicited a response from Butler in an Instagram story.

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Yahoo Sports NBA @YahooSportsNBA

Jimmy hit 'em with that 🙌🏿 (via @JimmyButler) https://t.co/um2XxM2aLG

Upon Butler's return to the team in October, he essentially commandeered the team's practice. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Butler led a squad of backups to a win over Minnesota's starters in a five-on-five scrimmage and told Wolves general manager Scott Layden, "You f--king need me, Scott. You can't win without me."

Yahoo Sports' Chris Haynes also reported Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns were among those whom Butler targeted.

"Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates, including 'They ain't [expletive]!' and 'They soft!,'" league sources said," Haynes wrote. "Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, sources said."

In an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols, Butler said much of the reports were true without going into specifics about each detail.

In addition, Butler said he had been trying to lead by example for Towns and Wiggins (h/t Wojnarowski):

"Am I being tough on [Towns]? Yeah, that's who am I. I'm not the most talented player on the team. Who is the most talented player on our team—KAT. Who is the most God-gifted player on our team—Wiggs. Who plays the hardest? Me! I play hard. I put my body [on the line] every day in practice, every day in games. That's my passion. Everybody leads in different ways. That's how I show I'm here for you."

While Wiggins denied there being any drama with Butler, the on-court returns haven't been promising.

Granted it's only a three-game sample, but Minnesota has a minus-7.9 net rating when Butler and Wiggins were on the court together, per NBA.com. Butler is the only teammate with whom Wiggins has a negative net rating.

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