Timberwolves president-coach Tom Thibodeau said Jimmy Butler would miss tonight’s game against the Jazz with “general soreness.”
Apparently, remaining in Minnesota this long after his trade request is what really pains Butler.
Shams Charania of The Athletic:
This puts the ball in the Timberwolves’ court. They could excuse this absence, as they did when Butler was away from the team during the preseason. Or they could suspend him, not only costing him his salary but also exposing a portion of his signing bonus.
Getting suspended would be a dangerous game for Butler. If he withholds playing services for more than 30 days, he won’t accrue a year of service and can’t become a free agent next offseason. He couldn’t sign with another professional basketball team unless Minnesota agreed.
But he also might contend he’s injured, at least for tonight. After all, that’s the reason Thibodeau publicly gave.
Of course, the Timberwolves could just trade Butler. They were expected to do so soon. The Rockets can now aggregate Brandon Knight‘s and Marquese Chriss‘ salaries in a trade, though Minnesota was reportedly demanding Eric Gordon. The Heat, Clippers and Mavericks are also still interested.
Butler has been trying to force a trade for a while now, but his best efforts have only ingrained him further to the Timberwolves. Maybe this will be the last straw that gets him free.
Or maybe this will turn an uncomfortable situation even uglier.