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Reports: Butler, Wolves owner Taylor come to understanding about situation

Guard expected to play in Minnesota's season-opener Wednesday

Jimmy Butler took part in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ practice on Sunday. While his future with Minnesota remains an unknown at this point, he has reportedly come to an agreement with ownership about his relationship there going forward.

Per The Athletic’s Jon Krawczynski and the Star Tribune‘s Kent Youngblood, Wolves owner Glen Taylor met with Butler to discuss the trade talk — and Butler’s volatile return to practice last week — as a new season approaches. In short, Butler and Taylor have reportedly reached an agreement that boils down to the Wolves continuing to seek a trade for Butler … and Butler agreeing to play up to his usual standards.

Here’s more from Youngblood on the reported talk between the two men:

A source told the Star Tribune that Butler and team owner Glen Taylor met and came to an understanding that Butler would play while Taylor pledged the team will keep searching for a deal and honor his trade request.

Assuming no trade is made, expect Butler to be in a Wolves uniform Wednesday. Asked if he expected that to happen, Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau said, “Yes, yep,” before saying the situation is still fluid. “We’re always looking at options,” he said.

While Thibodeau was mostly tight-lipped and Butler was mainly smiling, Taylor — who also owns the Star Tribune — and wife Becky were at practice, a relative rarity. The Wolves have weathered a difficult preseason filled with defensive lapses and a 1-4 record. Including Sunday, the team has three days to change the direction. Just how much Butler will be a part of that, long-term, remains, well, fluid.

The Timberwolves open their 2018-19 season on Wednesday in San Antonio (8:30 ET, NBA League Pass). When asked after yesterday’s practice if he planned to play in that game, Butler said: “I don’t even know if I’ll be breathing tomorrow. I’m just taking it one day at a time.” He was said his relationship with team management has not changed, but when asked if he still wanted to be traded, he smiled and said “maybe.” When asked if he expects to be traded, he also said “maybe.”

As for his relationship with Taylor, Butler said the “communication is there.”

“At the end of the day, he [Taylor] expects me to go out there and win some basketball games. I think that’s why my team expects me to do,” Butler said. “That’s what Minnesota as a fan base expects me to do. Go out there and compete and be the fun-loving basketball player that I am. That’s what I’ll be.”

Butler had been absent for most of training camp and the preseason after he requested a trade from the team in September. Despite weeks of trade rumors and speculation, it appears Butler will begin the regular season on the Timberwolves. Butler said after Sunday’s practice that he remains committed to helping the Wolves win as long as he is on the team.

“That was my message to everybody,” Butler said. “It’s not personal. Especially to my guys. We’re the ones who have to run up and down this court every single day. I make sure to remind them every single day that I’m paying attention. I’m watching, I’m helping. ’Cause I want to help everybody be better. I want y’all to win games. My name is still attached to this thing. I’m still here, so we’d better win.”

Said guard Andrew Wiggins: “All I know is, when we start playing the real games, Jimmy is someone you want on your team. At the end of the day, people can say what they want to say. But he’s a winner. I feel like, no matter where he is, he’s right here now. He’s going to give it all, because that’s all he knows.”

Butler was asked if he expects to be booed by the Timberwolves fans during the team’s home opener on Friday.

“Sure. Go ahead, boo me,” Butler said. “It ain’t going to change the way I play. That’s going to make me smile more. So please, come on with it.”

Butler returned to the team last week for a contentious practice where he reportedly called out his coaches, teammates and the front office. After the practice, Butler spoke with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols to explain his actions.

“A lot of it is true. You have to think … I haven’t played played basketball in so long,” Butler told Nichols. “And I’m so passionate. And I love the game. And I don’t do it for any other reason except to compete and go up against the best to try to prove that I can hang. So all of my emotion came out at one time. Was it the right way to do it? No. But I can’t control that when I’m out there competing. That’s my love of the game. That’s raw me. Me at my finest, my purest. That’s what you’re going to get inside the lines.”

The Timberwolves reportedly were close to trading Butler to the Miami Heat last week, but the talks reportedly broke down at the last minute. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the trade negotiations between the Timberwolves and Heat “have been dead”.

Butler, a four-time All-Star, averaged 22.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.9 assists and two steals per game for the Timberwolves last season. He had a minor procedure done on his right hand in July after meniscus surgery on his right knee in February, an injury that kept him out for 21 games in 2017-18.

The Timberwolves acquired Butler from Chicago in exchange for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen during the 2017 offseason. The former 30th overall pick helped propel the young Timberwolves to a 47-35 season while earning his fourth consecutive All-Star berth. The Wolves made the playoffs, ending a 14-year drought for the franchise, but they lost 4-1 to the top-seeded Houston Rockets in the first round.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.