He wasn’t here long last season, just long enough for training camp, but 13-year veteran Rasual Butler made quite the impression on the Timberwolves’ young players at his final NBA training camp.
Tom Thibodeau invited a player he coached briefly in Chicago to training camp last season, but Butler (right in the below photo) was waived with the preseason’s final cuts.
Both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins gravitated toward him that training camp after mentor Kevin Garnett did not return to the Wolves that fall. Butler played for eight different teams – the Wolves not included – in his long NBA career.
Rasual Butler and his wife Leah LaBelle died in a single-car crash in the Los Angeles in the early hours of Wednesday morning. He was 38.
“He was just real,” Towns said at this morning’s shootaround before tonight’s game against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee. “He was one of those players when you had him around you, the morale was just higher. It was just one of those things. It didn’t matter if scored a bucket or not, it was just better with him around.”
Butler worked with Wiggins on such things as how to get a corner three-pointer shot off better, quicker with a faked shot and crossover dribble to create space for himself.
“We worked a lot together after practice,” Wiggins said. “He knew the game inside out. He knew the NBA inside out. Any problems you had, any advice you needed, he was always there.
“It’s just crazy. It’s like he just started life after basketball. I guess it just shows you how crazy and short life can be.”
The Wolves return tonight to Target Center, where they have their last 10 games.
Two other things from shoot this morning:
Rookie center Justin Patton left the Iowa Wolves game against Oklahoma City Wednesday after just the first six minutes.
Thibodeau said he was kicked in the foot, but said the injury is believed to be just a bruise. It’s the same foot on which Patton had surgery last summer.
“We’ll see how he is today,” Thibodeau said.
And Towns went over after shootaround and posed outside Mayo Clinic Square with a life-sized ice sculpture carved in his image as part of this week’s Super Bowl festivities. He, Wiggins and Jimmy Butler all are there with their images sculpted in ice in front of Starbucks.
Butler apparently was unaware of such a thing.
“Why would I go watch myself in some ice?” he asked. “I don’t go outside. It’s too cold. No, I’m good.”