Jimmy Butler will return to Minnesota on Saturday when the Sixers visit the Timberwolves, marking his first game back in Target Center since shockingly requesting a trade from the team back in September.
Butler, who received mostly boos in the 10 games after his trade request last fall, is preparing to enter what’s sure to be a hostile environment during his return.
“They’re going to boo me,” Butler said of the Timberwolves fans, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. “I would boo me, too. I’m not going to lie to you.”
Butler, who’s known as one of the most outspoken players in the NBA, said he’ll even consider joining in with the fans’ boos. Butler spent just one full season on the Wolves, with the 29-year-old set to reach unrestricted free agency on July 1.
“Oh, I love it,” Butler continued about the fans’ reaction to the trade, as relayed by Stein. “I love it. I love it. Who wants to be loved all the time?
“It’s O.K. It’s fine. I don’t need everybody to like me. I know who I am. I can’t say that enough. I know what I’m about. I know where my heart is. People will say, ‘He’s this way, or he’s that way,’ but nobody knows except for the people around me every day. Ask them and they’ll tell you differently.”
Let’s check in on more items from out of the Atlantic…
- Knicks forward Noah Vonleh underwent an MRI on Wednesday that revealed a right ankle sprain with a bone bruise in his right foot, the team announced. Vonleh is expected to be re-evaluated in one week, with the 23-year-old averaging a career-high 8.4 points, 7.8 rebounds and 25.3 minutes per game this season.
- Raptors guard Fred VanVleet turned to analytics in order to improve his game while injured, Blake Murphy of The Athletic writes. VanVleet missed 12 straight games after undergoing surgery to fix ligament damage in his left thumb, returning to the court two weeks ago. “I’ve found some spots where I think I can be good. I’ve looked at my numbers. I’ve been bored outta my mind so I studied some analytics a little bit, watched a lot of film, and just seeing where I can get better,” VanVleet said. “This feels like October again for me so I’m approaching this as a new season, the end of the season, and hopefully I can come back and take another jump of improvement towards the end of the season.”
- Knicks coach David Fizdale couldn’t commit to Frank Ntilikina returning this season, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Ntilikina re-injured his groin on Friday, an injury that cost him nearly two months of action earlier in the year. “We don’t know yet on the status of how far away he is from coming back,” Fizdale said when asked whether Ntilikina is out for the season. “I know it was a tough blow to the kid the other night. I just don’t know how severe it is. I just know that it got to a point during the game where it was really bothering him. It’s just been frustrating for the kid. It’s been frustrating for all of us, but for him it’s been tough.”