Jimmy Butler Denies Report He's Sitting Out to Try to Force Trade

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 31, 2018

Minnesota Timberwolves' Jimmy Butler plays against the Indiana Pacers in the first half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Oct. 22, 2018, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Jim Mone/Associated Press

Jimmy Butler has denied a report that he will sit out to try to force a trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Butler told Rachel Nichols of ESPN he will not play Wednesday against the Utah Jazz because his "body is hurting." Butler "strongly pushed back" on the idea that he was sitting out as a protest to try to leave the franchise. 

The shooting guard confirmed the report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski that he will fly with the team for its Friday road game against the Golden State Warriors. Wojnarowski also reported that the asking price for Butler remains "steep."

Head coach Tom Thibodeau later told reporters the absence is not due to any impending trade, but he would not commit to whether Butler is going on the road trip, saying he's "day-to-day."

Butler's denial contradicts reporting from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic earlier Wednesday that said Butler would sit out against the Jazz as part of an "extended absence" for the All-Star.

The team listed him as out because of "general soreness and precautionary rest."

The Houston Rockets and Miami Heat have been linked with a deal for Butler in recent weeks.

Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight are at the end of the 60-day window the Rockets have to wait before trading them since Houston acquired them this offseason; they were the two salaries being sent to Minnesota, along with four first-round draft picks, in a recent trade proposal, per Wojnarowski.

The Timberwolves have looked like a fractured team on the court and a melodrama off it all season, highlighted by a 30-point drubbing by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.

Butler scored 32 points to lead Minnesota in a 124-120 win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, but he has drawn a cool reception from jilted Timberwolves fans.

"It's basketball," Butler told reporters Monday. "I don't think nothing that has gone on before this game has anything to do with us going out there and competing.

"We all go out there and play together, play to win—with or without what is going on."

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