The Minnesota Timberwolves ruled out All-Star Jimmy Butler before their game Wednesday night against Utah for “precautionary rest.”
Coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters at the morning shootaround that Butler’s absence was not related to his trade request.
“He missed all of training camp, basically, so he has just general soreness,” Thibodeau said.
Butler told ESPN he planned to attend the game against the Jazz at the Target Center and travel with the team on its five-game trip that begins Friday night at Golden State. Butler told the network he would play against the Warriors and disputed speculation that he was sitting out Wednesday in protest of the lack of action by the Wolves on his desire to be dealt elsewhere.
“Because my body is hurting and I don’t want to go out there and risk an injury, people make stuff up?” Butler said.
Thibodeau was noncommittal when asked if Butler would join the team on the trip.
Butler scored 32 points in 37 minutes in Minnesota’s win Monday night over the Los Angeles Lakers, including all five of his 3-point attempts in the fourth quarter. Players didn’t practice Tuesday, however, which made the need to sideline the four-time All-Star shooting guard Wednesday peculiar. Butler did not travel with the team to Dallas for the Oct. 20 game, but that planned absence from a defeat by the Mavericks came after he played the night before in the home opener.
“We knew going in that when you miss training camp like he did that basically this is hist training camp, so there’s soreness involved,” Thibodeau said Wednesday. “We talk to him, see how he’s feeling. When he has soreness, there’s going to be precautionary rest.”
The Wolves also ruled point guard Jeff Teague out Wednesday with a sore left knee. He bruised it during the game against the Lakers when he banged it against LeBron James’ knee. Thibodeau said Teague had precautionary X-rays taken after reporting soreness and swelling.
Andrew Wiggins played Wednesday after missing three straight games with a strained right quadriceps. He had 19 points in Minnesota’s 128-125 win over Utah.
The absences of Butler and Wiggins from their spots on the wing have allowed rookie Josh Okogie to see extended playing time. Okogie, the first-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, went 6 for 17 against the Lakers for a career-best 17 points.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got that next-man-up mentality,” power forward Taj Gibson said. “So far Josh has been a great surprise for us.”
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