Minnesota Timberwolves shooting guard Jimmy Butler said he's "cool" with Karl-Anthony Towns despite rumors of issues between the teammates and noted he won't let his lingering trade request impact his play during the 2018-19 NBA season.
On Saturday, Sam Amick of The Athletic provided comments from Butler, who said he is trying to play well until the trade situation is settled.
"Like I said, I don't focus on it. I really don't," he said. "If it happens, if something happens, something happens. If it don't, I've still got to go out there and prove that I can hang with the best of them. That's what I do every time I take the floor. I dap somebody up, and it's like, 'Yo, let's battle tonight.'"
Butler also expounded on his relationship with Towns: "Me and KAT are cool. I ain't got a problem with KAT. Don't nobody got a problem with nobody, I'm telling you. Everything ain't what it seems."
The drama may finally be nearing a conclusion as Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic reported later Saturday that Minnesota is nearing a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia 76ers:
Butler stayed away from the team for most of its preseason preparations as he searched for a trade but returned for practice Oct. 10, a week before the start of the regular season.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com reported the 29-year-old Houston native challenged the squad, targeting head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and teammates Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
"You f--king need me, Scott," Butler allegedly said. "You can't win without me."
Butler has continued to play to his usual standards, averaging 21.3 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals across 10 appearances. His individual success hasn't translated to many wins, though. Minnesota is 4-9, including a current five-game losing streak.
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Butler played 41 minutes in the team's loss to the Sacramento Kings on Friday night, his third straight contest with at least 39 minutes. He told Amick, "That s--t has to stop:"
"Yeah, we've got f--king guys who can play. We've got to instill confidence in everybody. I think my confidence is high enough. I want all my guys to be successful, man. I want all these guys to play. Is that a convo [with Thibodeau] that I've got to have? Yeah, and then everybody wants to talk about how the motherf--ker's not healthy [he said of himself]. Well God damn, we're playing 41, 43, 44 [minutes per game]; it takes a toll on top of all the work that I do that don't nobody even see. We'll fix it. We'll do something. We'll talk."
The Wolves will return to action Monday night against the Brooklyn Nets. It now appears Butler may no longer be a member of the roster for that contest, though.