2:47pm: Timberwolves players can’t seem to agree on what exactly happened today. While Butler confirmed to ESPN’s Rachel Nichols (Twitter link) that he held a players-only meeting, Jeff Teague responded to Charania’s initial report by calling it “fake news” and accusing him of making up the meeting (Twitter link).
1:55pm: Jimmy Butler called a players-only meeting on Thursday and aired his feelings about his situation and about team management, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). League sources tell Charania that Butler told his teammates that he’s prepared to compete with them, with Charania adding that signs are pointing toward the All-NBA swingman opening the 2018/19 season as a member of the Timberwolves.
As Charania relays (via Twitter), a number of players spoke up during the players-only meeting today, but Butler was the one leading it. The 29-year-old is too competitive to sit out real games, according to Charania, who adds that Butler’s message was similar to the one he conveyed on Wednesday: “I run this.”
Besides being too competitive to miss regular season games, Butler also has little incentive to do so from a contract and salary perspective. The NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement heavily penalizes players who hold out, and could even have prevented Butler from being able to reach free agency in 2019 if he missed enough games, so that was never really a viable option.
The Timberwolves’ players-only meeting comes on the heels of Wednesday’s already–infamous practice in which Butler reportedly teamed up with a handful of third-stringers to defeat Minnesota’s starters, yelling at head coach Tom Thibodeau, GM Scott Layden, and multiple teammates – including Karl-Anthony Towns – throughout the scrimmage. The Wolves cancelled Thursday’s practice.
Butler has made it clear that he has no intention of re-signing with the Timberwolves when he becomes eligible for free agency next July, so even if he does remain on Minnesota’s roster to start the season, the team will likely keep exploring potential trades. The Heat, Rockets, and Clippers are among the teams that have shown the most interest in the four-time All-Star, with Miami and Houston especially motivated to make a deal since they won’t have the cap room necessary to sign Butler outright in 2019.