The Timberwolves should be fast asleep right about now -- it's approaching 4 a.m. Tuesday as I post this -- after a full first day in China that included a practice not long after they landed in Shenzhen.
That's where they'll play the first of two preseason games against the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. The two teams also will play in Shanghai as well.
The Wolves Thursday at 12:30 a.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. Twin Cities time. Both games will be carried by NBA TV and FSN.
It probably wasn't much of a real practice by Tom Thibodeau standards, just enough to loosen players' legs, watch some film of Saturday's preseason-opening victory over the L.A. Lakers in Anaheim and get up some shots and do some individual work.
Thibodeau and Jimmy Butler talked to reporters after practice Monday afternoon/evening China time and timberwolves.com Kyle Ratke is passing along some audio this week to Twin Cities reporters, including me, who didn't make the trip.
"It's good to get over here and get a little bit of work in," Thibodeau said. "Just so you can try to stay on the same schedule. You're a little fatigued coming off the plane. You don't want to lose a day."
Butler had plenty of time to rest up, thanks to the 19-hour flight and the fact that he played just the first 12 minutes Saturday and then sat and coached the rest of the night from a spot on the bench not far from Thibodeau.
"Twelve minutes, I'm getting old," Butler said.
Thibodeau said Butler makes a better player than coach and the three-time All Star isn't about to disagree.
"Guys would rather play with me than me coach them," Butler said. "You see the game so much differently. That was the whole point, the 12 minutes. I get to see what we're really lacking, so I try to fix it. Let people know I see it. I may see it differently than others see it."
Here's what he saw from his remade team's preseason debut:
"Good and bad. We shared the ball really well. We guarded to the best of our ability. We rebounded the basketball. There are things we can get better at: Defensive positioning, balancing the floor. We watch film. We work on it every single day. We'll get the thing done. All that being said, we won the game. So we have to take that."
After the game, the Wolves immediately bused to Los Angeles International Airport where the big jet engines run and flew the Pacific.
"Flight, it was good," Butler said. "Went to sleep, had a glass of wine with Cole (Aldrich), talked about life and country music. It doesn't get much better than that. Listen to the same songs over and over."
A big country-music fan, Butler recommends the new album, "Life Changes" by Thomas Rhett.
"It's phenomenal," he said. "You really should go get it."
Butler has been to China twice before on shoe-company tours, but has never played there with his NBA team. Teammate Jamal Crawford is doing it with the third time after making two preseason trips with his L.A. Clippers.
"I didn't know it was his third time, but just looking at him I just realized how old he is," Butler said. "To be able to play three times in China, hopefully I get to do that."
Butler plans to spend his spare time this week on Facetime with his friends and family back home and he hopes to see some sights with teammate Aaron Brooks, who played in China during the NBA's 2011-12 lockout season.
"That's it, man," he said. "It's still a business trip, you've got to have a little bit of fun."