After two drama-filled days that included Jimmy Butler's confrontational return to Timberwolves practice Wednesday and more soap opera fodder Thursday, Friday might be a lot quieter.
Butler was not with the Timberwolves in Milwaukee as they prepared for their final preseason game, head coach Tom Thibodeau confirmed Friday morning at shootaround.
The official reason given by Thibodeau is that Butler stayed in Minneapolis to "work on his conditioning."
In practice Wednesday, Butler reportedly directed his frustration at Wolves General Manager Scott Layden, delivering an expletive-laced message about how the team can’t win without him.
He also had a confrontation with Karl-Anthony Towns, whom Butler has criticized, along with teammate Andrew Wiggins, for not working hard enough to fulfill his potential. That relationship is one of the reasons Butler would like to play elsewhere, a point he reaffirmed in an ESPN interview when he said his relationship with the team likely could not be “fixed.”
The Wolves canceled practice Thursday, and Thibodeau was not available to the media. But Thibodeau on Friday morning addressed that contentinous Wednesday practice and other things.
"I did expect (Butler) there and some things that have been reported are correct and some are not," he said. "It’s not uncommon when players scrimmage that there will be some talk. It was competitive."
Veteran Taj Gibson, who also played with Butler in Chicago, said this about Wednesday's practice: "I felt like it was a normal practice, but it was new for guys. It’s only our second year together, but I’ve been around Jimmy for a long time. We always had practices like that in Chicago."
When Thibodeau was asked if he would like to clarify anything that he thought was inaccurately reported about Wednesday's practice, he declined to do so.
Regarding Butler's comments about Towns and Wiggins, Thibodeau said: "To me, like they’re young guys improving, this is a team sport. It’s not an individual sport. If you look at every great player in this league, they don’t start off being great players there’s a progression to it. That’s what everyone has to understand it’s all about the team. The team has got to come first."
Was what Butler did on Wednesday -- at practice and later in doing an ESPN interview "team-first" behavior? Here was Thibodeau's answer to that: "The important thing is, we have to do what we think is best for our team and we always will do that. We’re always going to put the team first."
Towns also talked at shootaround Friday and tried his best to stay above the fray. "We had practice. We got better. Everyone got better and we left," he said about Wednesday.
When asked about the ongoing drama, Towns said, "I’m just happy that we can play basketball tonight in Milwaukee to get a chance to come out here and play for the first time in a while."