For an idea how eager Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau is to talk about the Jimmy Butler situation, consider: After morning shoot Friday at Target Center, with the team’s third preseason game against Oklahoma City a few hours away, Thibodeau was asked how he felt about the ongoing discussions regarding a Jimmy Butler trade.
Thibodeau paused, then: “They’re ongoing,’’ he said.
End of press conference.
Butler (above) remains away from the team, on the periphery as the team forges its way through the preseason, awaiting the trade he’s asked for.
Friday a few Wolves players said they’d welcome Butler back, should he somehow stay.
But Thibodeau deflected questions about the situation.
“It’s all fluid,’’ he said. “We’ll take it day by day. And then, moments later: “We’re trying to do what’s best for the team. And so we’re focused on the guys who are here. And, obviously, we’re trying to get something done. And we’ll approach it as it comes.’’
Meanwhile, the Wolves are trying to come together and prepare for the season. That includes working on moving the ball more, the ongoing attempt to improve defensively and learning how to play with so many new faces in the rotation.
Through it all, the Butler situation looms.
So, would the players welcome Butler back?
“Jimmy’s my guy,’’ guard Jeff Teague said. “So, he’s a professional. I know he’s going to come in, work hard. You all know that. He’s a team guy. He gives it all. I think he’d be accepted, but I guess we’ll see.’’
That’s all the players can do, wait and see how the situation is resolved. But, should it drag out, would it become harder?
“It’d be nice,’’ Teague said. “Just being honest. It’d be nice to have him back. But it’s not up to me.’’
Andrew Wiggins said any team with Butler on it is going to be better. “Jimmy, he’s always a plus, you know?’’ he said.
Taj Gibson, though, said he’s not taking much time to ponder a possible return to the fold by Butler.
“Whatever happens is going to happen,’’ he said. “Right now, I’m just trying to focus on the guys we have in the locker room right now. They’re putting a lot of work in, guys are coming early. Two hours early, before practice, full sweat. My objective is to go out there and try to help the guys we have here. Hopefully everything has a positive outlook and comes back together. But, right now, I have to just focus on who’s here.’’
So, like the fans, the players will have to wait and see. Thibodeau said there is no date where Butler would be expected to rejoin the team if a deal is not yet done. As for a deal? Discussions are ongoing.