The last time Jimmy Butler met his former Timberwolves teammates, he greeted several of them as they were boarding their bus to depart the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
He even gave Ryan Saunders a gift to commemorate Saunders taking over as the interim head coach — a bottle of wine.
"It's still in my house," Saunders said. "That's an expensive bottle so I'm saving it for a big moment."
Saturday might not be that moment for Saunders, but it will be a big moment for Wolves fans, who will get a chance to voice their full-throated displeasure with the way Butler orchestrated his exit out of town. The melodrama is still fresh:
The way Butler blew up his first preseason practice, cursing out teammates and General Manager Scott Layden, then sat down for an ESPN interview after news of the practice leaked.
How he didn't play in multiple games early in the season because of what former coach Tom Thibodeau described as "general soreness."
And how the whole thing threw off the energy of a Wolves team that started 4-9 before Thibodeau approved a trade of Butler to Philadelphia, a start that plagued the rest of the season.
Butler's 76ers clobbered the Wolves 149-107 in Philadelphia back in January. But the 76ers come to Target Center for their lone visit Saturday, and Butler knows what to expect.
"They're going to boo me," Butler told the New York Times this week. "I would boo me too. I'm not going to lie to you. I'd boo the heck out of myself."
There were boos even when Butler was here, such as when he was introduced in the starting lineup during the home opener against Cleveland. But now Wolves fans don't have to feel confusion over booing one of their own since Butler got his wish and will be wearing enemy clothing Saturday night.
But while fans may revel in the hostility, some of Butler's former teammates don't hold the same attitude. Butler had strained relationships with some Wolves, among them center Karl-Anthony Towns, and he questioned Towns' and Andrew Wiggins' competitive drive often. But others have a different feeling.
"That's my brother, so we talk quite often," guard Tyus Jones said. "He knows it's going to be interesting coming back. … We went through a lot of battles together, made a playoff run. Accomplished a lot in his one year here. I think he's more excited to get a chance to see everybody. This was home for him for a year. He still does have good memories here."
While fans may be upset with Butler, Jones and Saunders said they were able to distinguish between their personal relationships with Butler and Butler's desire to leave Minnesota.
"It's not personal. And everyone has their personal preference," Jones said. "He decided he didn't want to continue playing here and nobody holds that against him. … I don't think anyone confuses the two with holding it against him or being mad at him. At the end of the day, they're entitled to their own opinion and what they want to do with their life and career. That's what he decided he wanted to do."
Added Saunders: " I've always [said] you need to base your opinions and your relationships off interactions you've had as an individual with somebody. Other things can come into play at times. It's going to be how people treat you as an individual. … Obviously you know we wish him well."
That may not be the case with fans, and Butler said he's OK with that.
"I love it," Butler told the Times. "Who wants to be loved all the time?"