It has been confirmed that Jimmy Butler will sit out of Wednesday night’s game against the Utah Jazz. Sources close to the situation are reporting that his injury designation may be a front to disguise the four-time NBA All-Star’s refusal to play another game until his wish to be dealt off to another team is granted.
Bleacher Report is among a number of publications that are citing a pair of tweets in which Shams Charania and Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic both corroborate news that Butler’s absence will mark the beginning of a strategy to force a trade. “Jimmy Butler is taking the next step in a 6-week long process aimed at getting the All-Star out of Minnesota by sitting tonight against Utah and it could lead to an extended absence,” Krawczynski’s Twitter post read.
Krawczynski’s tweet nearly replicated a missive which had been simultaneously posted by Charania. Krawczynksi went on to add that the move is one that Butler had begun contemplating the evening prior. Charania doubled down on the reports during a live interview with the Stadium sports network, shared via Twitter, adding: “This is a decision that he contemplated over the last couple of days, and he informed Tom Thibodeau of the decision this morning – that he’s going to sit out.”
— Stadium (@WatchStadium) October 31, 2018
Last week ESPN‘s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Houston Rockets had taken the lead in regards to teams expressing interest in acquiring Butler. In exchange for giving Houston what it would need to form a legitimate big-three — along with Chris Paul and reigning MVP James Harden — there was talk that Minnesota figured to rely on getting up to four first-round draft picks, if not some combination involving Marquese Chriss and Brandon Knight.
Interestingly enough, Chriss and Knight are just about on the verge of meeting the 60-day window that the Rockets are obligated to wait out before they could swap them with another team. Thus, the timing of Butler sitting out over “general soreness and precautionary rest” has been a cause for speculation that perhaps the Timberwolves and Butler are going through the motions of their final days together.
It might be in Minnesota’s best interest to cut bait and take what they could get — considering that Butler has confirmed that he will not be returning after his contract expires at season’s end. And logic says that the sooner they can promise him to a post-season contender, the more they’d be able to get for him. However, Wojnarowski has since circled back to report that his own sources say that Thibodeau — and Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor — are not convinced that they’ve received the best offer they can for Butler. Their prudence might have turned interested parties off for the time being.
“The Timberwolves suggested that Jimmy Butler rest vs. Utah tonight and there’s an expectation that he will join the team on flight to Bay Area to play Golden State on Friday. Teams talking to Minnesota about trades say that the asking price remains steep,” Wojnarowski wrote on Twitter, addressing Wednesday’s news.