Jimmy Butler is expected to play for the Timberwolves tonight in Sacramento, but the team will continue to mix in occasional games of “scheduled rest” for the All-NBA swingman going forward as part of a jointly agreed-upon plan, league sources tell Marc Stein of The New York Times (Twitter link).
When Butler sat out last Wednesday’s game against Utah, reports indicated that it was related to his push for a trade. However, the Timberwolves cited “general soreness” and “precautionary rest” to explain his absence for that contest, as well as Sunday’s game in Portland, denying that had anything to do with his trade request.
Sources tell Stein (Twitter link) that the Timberwolves and Butler initially agreed to establish a “loose limit” of about 32 minutes per game coming into the season for the 29-year-old. With his minutes limited to some extent, Butler would get a chance to ease back in after missing training camp and the Wolves could minimize his injury risk as they sought a trade.
However, Butler has played at least 35 minutes in seven of his nine games so far, including 43 against the Lakers on Wednesday. With the competitive Butler and head coach Tom Thibodeau – who has historically given heavy minutes to his starters – apparently having trouble sticking to that initial plan, the rest games will provide the team another way to attempt to minimize Butler’s injury risk, Stein explains (Twitter link).
It’s not clear if the games Butler misses will follow any specific pattern. It’s safe to assume that back-to-backs are worth watching, but Minnesota will play on consecutive nights only once before December 30 — the Wolves visit Brooklyn on November 23 and host the Bulls on November 24.