During an introduction amplified four levels skyward at the Mall of America and transmitted across the globe, new Timberwolves star Jimmy Butler gave out his cellphone number Thursday for anyone — haters or otherwise — wanting to call him.
At the same time, he promised he will be the first one to pick up that phone and call when the NBA's free agency period begins late Friday.
Welcomed publicly to the Wolves a week after they acquired him from Chicago in a draft-night trade, Butler gives them a three-time All-Star, a proven veteran and an adult in the room on a team that hasn't made the playoffs since he was a teenager in Tomball, Texas.
He also purportedly gives them credibility when Wolves President of Basketball Operations and coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden go shopping with more than $18 million available to spend on shooters, defenders and maybe even a new starting point guard. The NBA free-agent market opens for business at 11 p.m. Friday.
Butler's Olympic teammate, Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry, is available, as are forwards Gordon Hayward of the Jazz, Blake Griffin of the Clippers and Paul Millsap of the Hawks.
Just how high the Wolves can successfully aim remain to be seen, but it's likely noticeably higher than two weeks ago now that Butler is lobbying Lowry and others on his new team's behalf.
"I'll be talking to a lot of really good players — much better than myself, I will tell you that — and get them here to join what we have," Butler said to a couple thousand people, including new teammate Karl-Anthony Towns in the front row, gathered at the Mall of America's rotunda. "I know that, with the support I've already felt from this city, they're definitely going to love it. Getting here, with this young core, winning these games, anybody's going to want to be a part of that.
"Now it's all about getting the right fit to fit with these guys."
Before taking Towns with him when he returned to his Los Angeles summer home Thursday afternoon, Butler said he will work with any young teammates out his way, just as he did when he played for the Bulls.
Butler also praised Thibodeau for helping him become that three-time All-Star and Olympic gold medalist — "Thibs has molded me into the player I am today" — and also promised to embrace his new city as his own.
"I love my people, anybody could tell you that," he said. "You all are my people and I will be in this community to the best of my ability. … Thank you. I'm so happy to be here, to represent this city now and I look forward to my future here."
Headed fast into that future, how exactly will Butler act as advocate with free agents for a Wolves franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 2004?
"For me to know, for you to find out at a later date," he said. "So I don't know, I really don't. Get on the phone, try to buy them some dinner. Maybe buy them a bottle of wine. I don't know. We'll find out."
Last summer, the Wolves signed free agents ColeAldrich, Brandon Rush and Jordan Hill to short — Aldrich's three-year deal was the longest — and cost-effective contracts. None of them made a meaningful impact last season.
In a new NBA era where All-Stars have recruited each other to form "super teams" with Cleveland, Golden State and now Houston, the Wolves now have if not a superstar, an All-Star who circulates in the same circles and speaks the same language.
"The fact that he has played in All-Star Games, the fact that he has been an Olympian, those guys always get to know each other and there's friendships," Thibodeau said. "It's just the way it is. The players always are talking to each other. They all reach out. Some of them share agents. Some of them share experiences, whether it be All-Star Games or the Olympics. Whatever relationships he has, if those players are looking for places to play, hopefully we'll have a good shot at them."
But Thibodeau acknowledges money talks first and a roster built to win talks next after that.
Butler's arrival gives the Wolves a star to put alongside Towns and Andrew Wiggins, who will receive All-Star consideration when — if? — the Wolves start to win.
"I think most players would look at our roster and say they like those young players we have," Thibodeau said. "They like playing with Jimmy. Jimmy's got relationships with a lot of All-Stars and Olympians."
The Wolves now have Butler, but they haven't yet started to win. That, however, didn't stop Towns from talking about himself, Butler and Wiggins in the same breath with a Miami team that once featured LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, or the current Warriors led by four All-Stars, including Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
"When you're talking about Big Threes in the league, now we're in that conversation," Towns said. "We should be great. This is what dynasties are made of when you put players together with a bunch of talent and they mesh well. Nothing that started with the Warriors happened by accident."
Butler isn't about to quibble with his new young, impressionable teammate.
"I like it, I like the sound of it," Butler said when asked about Towns' "dynasty" comments. "There's some really good players. I guess I'm just tagging along right now, which is cool. I just want to win. Big Three, Big Whatever, let's get some big wins. Let's get into these playoffs and make some noise. That's all I want to do."