A Timberwolf during training camp a season ago, longtime NBA player Rasual Butler nonetheless impressed Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins during their brief time together.

Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau brought a player he once briefly coached to camp in October 2016. He waived him in that preseason’s final cuts, but not before Butler played a mentor’s role as Kevin Garnett had the season before.

Butler and his wife, singer Leah LaBelle, died in a single-car crash near Los Angeles in Wednesday’s early hours. He was 38.

“Man, he was amazing,” Towns said. “He taught me a lot in a little time. … He was a real one. Pure heart. He was just one of those dudes you always wanted to be around. It was just better with him around.”

Butler worked with Wiggins often after practice during camp that fall.

“He knew the game inside out, knew the NBA inside out,” Wiggins said. “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. Love life and live it how you want to live it. You never know.”

Butler played six games for Thibodeau’s Chicago team in 2011. He played 13 NBA seasons with eight different teams.

“Sad, just real sad,” Thibodeau said. “Just an unbelievable guy. Certainly our condolences go out to his family. He was one of the classiest guys in the NBA. Every team that he was on, everyone loved him. He’ll be missed.”

Have an ice time

Towns walked across the street after morning shoot at Target Center and posed with life-size ice sculptures chiseled in the likenesses of himself, Wiggins and Jimmy Butler. They will be displayed outside the Starbucks at Mayo Clinic Square through Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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.”

Patton hurting

Wolves rookie Justin Patton played only six minutes in a G League game for Iowa on Wednesday and left after being kicked in the same foot on which he had surgery last summer.

Thibodeau said it was only a bruise.

“That’s a good thing,” he said. “We’ll see how he progresses from there.”


• Patriots coach Bill Belichick sat courtside next to the Bucks’ bench, three nights before the Super Bowl. Steelers receiver/Jimmy Bulter pal Antonio Brown attended, too.

• The Wolves unveiled the last of their new uniforms, this time wearing their gray/silver “City” ones. “Love them,” guard Tyus Jones said.

• Bucks point guard Eric Bledsoe missed the game because of a sore ankle sustained three minutes into Monday’s game against the 76ers. Forward Jabari Parker is expected to make his season debut Friday against the Knicks after he tore his ACL last February for the second time in little more than two years.

• Jimmy Butler on the passing of acquaintance Rasual Butler: “Even though I didn’t play with him, he was always around, always smiling, always high-spirited. It’s always tough to lose somebody like that, a brother in the fraternity of NBA players. Just an incredible human being, man. That’s the hardest part of it all.”

• Former Cooper star Rashad Vaughn on how many family and friends come see him with the Bucks during his annual visit to Target Center: “I’m still counting. They always come out and support. It should be a big crowd.”

• Former Wolves General Manager Milt Newton attended Thursday’s game. He is the Bucks’ assistant GM now.