Wednesday night, for the second time this season, the Wolves played without Jimmy Butler.
It was Topic A on a newsy day — Andrew Wiggins returned after missing three games because of a quad contusion, and Jeff Teague sat out with a sore left knee.
Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said Butler’s sitting had nothing to do with his desire to be traded, saying it was due to “precautionary rest and general soreness.’’
Asked if Butler would accompany the team on its upcoming five-game road trip — one that starts Friday at Golden State — Thibodeau acted as though he didn’t know.
“That’s where we are,’’ Thibodeau said. “Day to day.’’
Teague has soreness after banging knees with LeBron James in the Wolves’ victory over the Lakers on Monday night. He had an MRI Wednesday, and Thibodeau said he thought the injury was just a bruise.
A source told the Star Tribune that Butler’s absence is part of a regularly scheduled rest, and Butler told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols via text: “Because my body is hurting and I don’t want to go out there and risk an injury, people make stuff up? What are they going to do when I show up and hoop on Friday?”
He also indicated he would be with the team on the upcoming trip.
Wednesday marked the second game he’s missed; he didn’t accompany the Wolves to Dallas on Oct. 20, which was the back end of back-to-back games. In this case, the Wolves were off Tuesday and are playing the third of three consecutive home games.
“We knew going in that when you miss training camp like he did, basically this is his training camp,’’ Thibodeau said. “So there is soreness involved.’’
When asked about the ongoing trade drama with Butler, Jazz guard Ricky Rubio — the subject of numerous trade rumors when he was with the Wolves before being dealt in 2017 — said it’s all a matter of perspective.
“Every day is different news,’’ Rubio said. “But at the end of the day, until it doesn’t happen — I got [rumored to be] traded 10 times when I was here. Until that happened, you can’t think about that every day. When it happens, it will happen. The players who are here have got to play to win every time, and that’s it.’’
The timing of Butler’s absence is interesting given the parameters of a potential Butler trade with Houston. Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss, two Rockets acquired from Phoenix in late August, were eligible to have their salaries aggregated as part of a trade package starting Wednesday, per the rules of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.
Their availability could help facilitate a deal with the Rockets — who last week reportedly offered both in a package along with four first-round picks in exchange for Butler — or spur other teams to increase their trade offers.
Teague missed some time last season with a similar injury to his right knee. This time it was the left knee. “I already had a little tendonitis,’’ he said.
Given the similarity to the injury he had last season, Teague has only one solution: “I guess I have to start wearing knee pads,’’ he said.
Wolves pass on Patton
A source confirmed the Timberwolves will not pick up the third-year option on 2017 first-round pick Justin Patton. The deadline for picking up the option was Wednesday night. Patton, chosen with the No. 16 pick as part of the draft-night deal for Butler, has had his career derailed by foot injuries. He has appeared in just one NBA game.
Staff Writer Chris Hine contributed to this report.