Good news: Jimmy Butler returned to the Timberwolves and participated in practice on Wednesday.
Bad news: he figuratively lit the entire place on fire.
As a part of what appears to have been an orchestrated hit job against, well, everyone, Butler reportedly teamed up with third-stringers to scrimmage against the other starters, including Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns only to dominate the floor and yell insults obscenities at everyone, including Towns, Wiggins, and general Scott Layden.
After leaving the court, he did his first interview since the trade demand with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, who had been invited to Minnesota by Butler’s camp for this express purpose. He then had a primetime SportsCenter interview to explain himself.
This is the Sistine Chapel of disgruntled employee behavior. Bravo, Team Jimmy.
Among Jimmy’s rebel yells was that the Wolves need him. This is absolutely true and is part of the reason Minnesota hasn’t yet acquiesced to his trade request. There’s no real movement on that front, though reports suggest Minnesota had re-engaged the Heat before this blow-up. (In the wake of the incident, adding Butler to a team with Dion Waiters and Hassan Whiteside sounds like a great idea. Or just imagine if James Johnson was on the Wolves on Wednesday. Yikes.)
For the Wolves, this is a nightmare of their own making. They are paying Jimmy Butler $20 million to destroy them from the inside. Send him home and try harder to trade him lest he fully destroy everything that touches the team, if it’s not already too late.
Playing out on Twitter over the course of the day:
Uh, Jimmy told Rachel Nichols he’s going back to Wolves practice on Thursday, so stayed tuned.
On National TV:
Jazz vs. Kings, 10 p.m. ET
Selections from League Pass:
There are two other games but no apparent local broadcasts, which means League Pass availability is doubtful.
You, a skeptic: Nothing in preseason matters. Me, a faithful missionary in the Church of Trae: Have you witnessed Trae Young win a tied game with a pull-up three from the logo?
Seerat Sohi on how social media helped turn the NBA into a made-for-TV drama. Great piece.
Marc Stein reports that Gregg Popovich’s USA Basketball assistant coaches for the 2019 FIBA World Cup next summer will include Nate McMillan, Jay Wright, and — drumroll, please — Steve Kerr! Getting Kerr is a) an enormous coup and b) only something Pop could do.
Turner added Candace Parker to its basketball studio analyst lineup after she killed it working the NCAA Tournament and some NBA spots last season. She’ll be doing the tournament and NBA TV’s Players Only broadcasts. Great hire.
Kevin Love continues to raise awareness about mental health and is helping UCLA athletes and coaches find it. Critical work. Meanwhile, Love gave a nuanced, smart answer about what he would tell a star who asks him what it’s like playing with LeBron.
It’s always worth checking out SI’s annual festival of NBA scouts anonymously talking trash about everyone else.
And finally: rest in peace to the genius Tex Winter.
Be excellent to each other.