1:24pm: There’s a belief within the Timberwolves that Butler could target specific games to sit out, league sources tell ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. However, he’s unlikely to miss high-profile matchups like Friday’s game against the Warriors, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that Butler is expected to play in Golden State.
According to both Wojnarowski and Krawczynski, Butler’s camp remains frustrated with the Wolves’ inaction on his trade request and wants owner Glen Taylor to speed up the process. There’s a “collective belief” among Butler’s suitors that Thibodeau isn’t looking to seriously negotiate a trade yet, sources tell Woj.
Addressing the Rockets’ offer specifically, Krawczynski notes that Minnesota isn’t interested in taking on Knight’s contract. The Rockets have made “no progress” on a Butler deal with the Wolves, tweets Sam Amick of The Athletic.
12:34pm: The situation remains fluid, according to Krawczynski, who tweets that Butler could very well return to the Timberwolves’ lineup for Friday’s game. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports (via Twitter) that there’s an expectation Butler will fly to Golden State with the team for Friday’s game, adding that it was the Wolves that suggested the 29-year-old rest on Wednesday. Teams talking to Minnesota about Butler say the asking price remains high, per Woj.
11:57am: Jimmy Butler won’t play for the Timberwolves on Wednesday night against Utah, the team confirmed today. While the club cited “general soreness and precautionary rest” as the reasons for Butler’s absence, the four-time All-Star made the decision himself, informing head coach Tom Thibodeau of his plan this morning, according to Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Charania and Krawczynski report (via Twitter) that Butler’s decision to sit tonight represents the “next step” in his continued efforts to push the Timberwolves to trade him. According to The Athletic’s duo, Butler’s absence could turn into an extended one.
If Butler is healthy enough to play and is opting to sit out against the Wolves’ wishes, the team would have grounds to dock his salary for each game he misses. It’s not clear if that’s where this is headed though — when Thibodeau initially announced the news on Butler, there was no indication that the club wasn’t on board with having him sit out Wednesday’s game.
This is just the latest development in a saga that has had its fair share of dramatic twists and turns since word of Butler’s trade request broke a week before training camps got underway. The All-NBA wing looks like a lock to be traded before February’s trade deadline, but he’s clearly hoping to force Minnesota to make a move well before then.
The Heat and Rockets have been the teams most frequently identified as suitors for Butler, though Marc Stein of The New York Times wrote on Tuesday about “steady rumbles” around the NBA that the Sixers will eventually make a push too. Miami appeared close to landing Butler at one point during the preseason with a package centered around Josh Richardson and a first-round pick, but couldn’t finalize a deal.
As for Houston, the Rockets reportedly offered Marquese Chriss, Brandon Knight, and four first-round picks for Butler. Since it has been two months since Chriss and Knight were acquired from Phoenix, those two players can now have their salaries aggregated together in a trade for salary-matching purposes, meaning that – as of today – such a deal would be allowed. However, the Wolves reportedly showed little interest in Houston’s offer, preferring a package that includes Eric Gordon.
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