NBA: Timberwolves cancel practice after Jimmy Butler blow-up; players-only meeting disputed

According to ESPN, Jimmy Butler verbally challenged teammates, coaches and front office executives on Oct 10, 2018.
According to ESPN, Jimmy Butler verbally challenged teammates, coaches and front office executives on Oct 10, 2018.PHOTO: AFP/GETTY IMAGES

(REUTERS) - Disgruntled Jimmy Butler caused a stir at the Minnesota Timberwolves' practice on Wednesday (Oct 10), and he was not given a chance to do so again on Thursday.

The team cancelled practice and instead there was a players-only meeting between Butler and his teammates, according to multiple media outlets.

Butler reportedly told his teammates that his issues are with management and not the players. However, point guard Jeff Teague said on his Twitter account that The Athletic's description of the meeting was inaccurate.

"It wasn't no players meeting you just made that up bro y'all gotta relax with this fake news," Teague tweeted.

According to ESPN, Butler on Wednesday verbally challenged teammates, coaches and front office executives. The four-time All-Star has demanded a trade this off-season and has called out young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins on a number of occasions.

Reports said an emotional Butler targeted president of basketball operations and coach Tom Thibodeau, teammates Towns and Wiggins and general manager Scott Layden, at whom he screamed at one point, "You need me. You can't win without me."

In an interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols after the practice, Butler told her about how he felt during practice.

"I haven't played basketball in so long. I'm so passionate," said the 29-year-old, who was traded to Minnesota from the Chicago Bulls before the 2017-18 season.

"I don't do it for any reason but to compete. All my emotion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can't control that when I'm out there competing. That's raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. Inside the lines."

Butler appears to be convinced that not all of his teammates will do what it takes to win. "I think that's the part everybody doesn't see," he said. "I'm not going to say no names. I'm going to be honest: If your No. 1 priority isn't winning, people can tell. That's the battle. Now there is a problem between people. That's where the disconnect is."

He said the fact that he showed up for practice on Wednesday does not mean he's happy. "It's not fixed," he told Nichols. "Let's be honest."

Can the situation be fixed? "It could be," he said. "Do I think so? No."