Jimmy Butler Re-Lives Infamous Timberwolves Practice, Requesting Trade

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistDecember 11, 2018

Philadelphia 76ers' Jimmy Butler in action during an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Matt Slocum/Associated Press

The Jimmy Butler saga was the talk of the basketball world during the preseason and the start of the 2018-19 regular season, and now, the Philadelphia 76ers star is giving his side of how things played out.

Appearing on teammate JJ Redick's The JJ Redick Podcast, Butler made it clear that he was upfront with the Minnesota Timberwolves at the beginning of the summer about his desire to be traded, even though breaking the news to coach Tom Thibodeau—who he also played for with the Chicago Bulls—was "one of the hardest things I had to do."

As for that infamous practice, Butler revealed that issues arose when someone told him he had to participate:

"It's not really heated [with Wolves management]. We're literally just talking, and then somebody says: 'You're gonna practice.' Now, first of all, I have a for-real problem with authority. When somebody’s telling me what to do as a grown man, I have a problem with it. So now you done lit the match, but ain’t nothin’ on fire yet. You just lit the match.

"I was like: 'First of all, you're not going to tell me what I’m gonna do. If I choose to practice, I'll choose to practice.' And I’m like: 'Nah, I don't know just yet.' And then he was like: 'No, you're gonna practice.' Now you’re getting that fire a little too close to me, so I’m like: 'Let me tell you something, if I'm going to practice, I'll come off the bench, like I’ll play with this second group if I want to as long as I’m out there in practice.' Boom.

"This person goes: 'No, you're gonna play with the starters.' There you go. You did got me now. No I'm not. I'm gonna play with the third-stringers, now what? I'm telling them I don't think it's a good idea to do it, because I know whenever I go in there, I'm trying to basically just prove a point."

Butler also revealed a never-before-known nugget about his stint with the third-stringers.

"I only shot the ball one time. I only shot the ball once," he added. "Oh, I was dominating, but I only shot the ball once. Dimes, boom, boom, boom. Steals, blocks. I only shot the ball one time."

That Oct. 10 practice created no shortage of buzz as the basketball world couldn't handle the details that were leaking out. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported Butler spent practice verbally challenging teammates, coaches and the front office, which included telling general manager Scott Layden, "You f--king need me, Scott. You can't win without me."

Some, including Redick, viewed the incident as a premeditated act after an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols aired hours later:

However, Butler told Redick that the sitdown had been planned three weeks in advance.

Butler would open the season with the Timberwolves, averaging 21.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 10 games with Minnesota. But as he periodically sat games out amid his discontent, the team pushed to finally resolve the issue.

The four-time All-Star finally got his wish Nov. 12, as the Timberwolves traded Butler and Justin Patton to the Sixers in exchange for Jerryd Bayless, Robert Covington, Dario Saric and a 2022 second-round draft pick.

When Redick mentioned that the whole saga may have affected Butler's reputation, the Sixers star didn't hold back. While saying he wants to "win at all costs," he pointed out that he "thrives" on confrontations.

"I don't give a f--k what anybody thinks about me," Butler declared. "All I want to do is win."

So far, so good in Philly. The Sixers are 11-3 since acquiring Butler, who is averaging 19.8 points on 48.7 percent shooting with his new team. There's a long way to go in the season, but if Butler and Co. keep up the momentum, they will be a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.


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