The Miami Heat are pressing the Minnesota Timberwolves to keep talking and eventually finalize a trade centered on Jimmy Butler, according to a report from ESPN.
Butler requested a trade three weeks ago. Per ESPN, the All-Star swingman practiced Wednesday for the first time since his trade request and it was … interesting.
He reportedly “verbally challenged” his teammates, as well as the Timberwolves’ coaching staff and front office. ESPN added that “Butler was vociferous and emotional at times,” with his comments directed at president/coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden, center Karl-Anthony Towns and swingman Andrew Wiggins.
“At one point during the scrimmage, Butler turned to GM Scott Layden and screamed, ‘You (bleeping) need me. You can’t win without me,'” ESPN reported, citing sources. “Butler left teammates and coaches largely speechless. He dominated the gym in every way.”
According to one source, Butler and a “team of third-stringers” beat the Wolves’ starters in a scrimmage.
Butler is believed to have experienced some issues with Wiggins and especially Towns last season. Some in league circles have strongly suggested the drama between Butler and Towns was real and centered on a woman.
Either way, Butler had previously refused Thibodeau’s request to re-join the team, according to multiple reports from The Athletic.
His return to practice, some opposing GMs believe, is Butler’s way of avoiding any missed paychecks — as opposed to rescinding his trade offer.
With that in mind, the Heat appear to still be in pursuit.
“Outside of the Heat, the Timberwolves have had no serious, active talks with any other team,” ESPN reported in a separate story. “Butler has told Minnesota that he’ll leave in free agency in July — and wants a trade now.”
The Heat and Timberwolves were close on a trade that would have sent Josh Richardson, another player and other assets to Minnesota, but the deal feel apart at the last minute. Butler is said to prefer the Heat over all other potential destinations. He can become a free agent at season’s end.
The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets also haven’t given up on the idea of landing Butler in a trade, according to multiple sources and reports. Most other teams, it seems, are merely monitoring the Butler news and have removed themselves from the running for the time being.
While the Butler saga seems to be dragging on, it’s only been three weeks, as one GM pointed out to AmicoHoops.
Butler’s friend and current Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 and it took the Cavs six weeks to pull off a deal.