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Jimmy Butler finally shows up to Timberwolves practice and lets his emotions fly

Denver Nuggets guard Torrey Craig (3) defends against Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jimmy Butler (23) in the fourth quarter at the Pepsi Center in Denver on Dec. 20, 2017. Isaiah J. Downing / USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Timberwolves all-star guard Jimmy Butler briefly practiced with the team Wednesday and reportedly made his presence felt, to put it lightly.

Butler scrimmaged with the Wolves for less than an hour Wednesday, according to a source. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that during practice Butler verbally challenged teammates, coaches and the Wolves front office, specifically targeting coach Tom Thibodeau, general manager Scott Layden and Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler reportedly turned to Layden during the scrimmage and screamed “you (bleeping) need me. You can’t win without me.”

In an interview with ESPN on Wednesday night, Butler said Wojnarowski’s report was mostly true.

“But you’ve got to think, I haven’t played basketball in so long and I’m so passionate,” he told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “All my emotion came out at one time.”

Butler admitted it probably wasn’t the right way to go about expressing himself but noted he can’t control that when he’s on the floor. He said he was “brutally honest,” which he doesn’t consider to be a bad thing.

“That’s raw me,” he told Nichols. “Me at my finest, me at my purest. That’s what you’re going to get inside the lines.”

Butler requested a trade before the start of training camp, but the Wolves have yet to agree to a deal. A potential trade with Miami stalled late last week. Nichols asked Butler if his appearance at practice means his relationship with the Wolves is fixed.

“It’s not. It’s not fixed,” Butler said.

“Is it fixable?” Nichols asked.

“It could be, it could be,” Butler said. “But do I think so? No. Because you’ve got to be honest. … Is everybody going to be honest? No.”

Butler wasn’t made available to local media after Wednesday’s practice, his first since he asked to be traded.

“I just want everybody to be happy, I want to win,” Butler said. “I’m sorry if I go about it the wrong way. I really do apologize. But I just want to win.”

When asked if Butler participated in practice, forward Anthony Tolliver simply said Butler “was around. That’s really all I got to say about that.” Butler has been in contact with a few teammates over the past few weeks, including point guard Jeff Teague.

“I love Jimmy, man,” Teague said Wednesday. “Him being around and his energy. He’s a good person, and his energy is amazing. I mean, I can deal with anything, I can adjust to anything, I can adapt to any situation. So, I’m cool.”

Thibodeau and Wolves players have downplayed any potential distraction caused in training camp by the team’s ongoing stalemate with Butler. For what it’s worth, Teague said the Wolves “played hard” at Wednesday’s practice.

“I think we had a good practice,” Teague said, “but we’ve got some ways to go.”

Tolliver said he’s never been through a situation quite like this with a team.

“Not like this. But like I said, there’s different nuances, different situations that happen,” Tolliver said. “But once again, I learned from a very early age, don’t focus on that stuff because that will ultimately distract you. I’m just focused on myself, focused on the guys who are here. Whether he’s here or not, we’ll just focus on who is here. Whenever opening night happens, we’ll go out there and play with who we’ve got.”

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