After being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, Jimmy Butler told reporters that he still respects Minnesota Timberwolves head coach and president of basketball operations Tom Thibodeau.
“Thibs is my guy. The world knows that,” he said at a post-trade press conference, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “You know that. It was hard going through that with Thibs, but he knew what it was for the most part. I have so much respect for him and the organization they have … it just didn’t work out. I wish them the best.”
Butler also said that friends learned of the trade to the 76ers before he did.
Butler played under Thibodeau for the Chicago Bulls for four seasons before the head coach’s ouster.
In Thibodeau’s second offseason at the helm of the Timberwolves, he swung a blockbuster deal to bring Butler to Minnesota.
“Man, me and Thibs will butt heads a million times throughout this year,” Butler told NBA.com in November 2017 of his reunion with the head coach. “That’s a given. We’ll probably butt heads more than anybody else on the team, because we go about things the same way but he may see something differently the way that I see it, and he’ll speak on it and I’ll speak on it and before you know it we’re like, ‘Yo … dadadada, listen this, listen this,’ but that’s because we both want to win. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing for Thibs, man. He’s always working, always studying the game. You always see him in the gym, in his office. You’re going to ride for guys that do that, because you know at the end of the day they’re going to work just as hard as you are.”
This offseason, a year after his arrival, the four-time All-Star requested a trade.
Frustration Mounted for Butler
Butler agreed to play some games for the Timberwolves while the team sought a suitable trade, with a per-game minutes restriction set loosely at 32, reportedly.
Butler surpassed 32 minutes in all but two of the 10 games he played for Minnesota this season. He played more than 43 minutes on Wednesday and more than 41 two days later in what’d be his final game with the team, prompting this exchange with The Athletic’s Sam Amick:
Question: You played 41 minutes tonight…
Butler: That s— has to stop.
Butler: We’ve got f—ing 14 other guys.
Thibodeau’s Comments on Butler
The head coach also addressed the media today, for the first time since agreeing to send his star wing east.
“I have known Jimmy a long time,” Thibodeau said, according to ESPN. “Obviously, we felt when we had the opportunity to get him that we had to take advantage of that. It is rare when you have the opportunity to get a top-10 player. We knew there was risk involved with it.”