Report: Jimmy Butler had players on Timberwolves back him up throughout his nasty divorce from team

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A new report indicates that during Jimmy Butler’s contentious time as a member of the Minnesota Timberwoves, his teammates backed him despite his conflicts with Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Jon Krawczynski and Kelly Iko of The Athletic looked at the current Ben Simmons situation and compared it to when Butler was seeking to be dealt from the Timberwolves.

Interestingly, it seems like Butler never lost the locker room despite his conflict with the team and its other stars.

“In Minnesota, the differences between Butler and the younger Wolves, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, were evident,” Krawczynski and Iko wrote. “But Butler also had players in the locker room who backed him the whole way. They did not take Butler’s demands or antics personally, saying they understood that he was making a personal decision that he felt was best for his career.

“Butler had kept the lines of communication open with his teammates, telling them that his decision had nothing to do with them, and that resonated with some players in the locker room who remain close to Butler to this day.

“‘You understand that because in some way, some form or another, you are going to be in some type of situation like that in your career,’ the ex-Wolves player said. ‘Whether it’s free agency, whether it’s deciding if it’s time to hang it up or keep going. There are different situations where you’re going to have to put yourself first and this was that situation for him. Players understood that.’”

Butler was heavily pursued by the Miami Heat at that time before being dealt to the Philadelphia 76ers. In 2019, Butler was then part of a sign-and-trade that brought him to the Heat.

One of the criticisms directed at Butler has been his prickly personality, which has aggravated some of his teammates over the years.

Yet, Butler’s leadership and stature are also evident in the way that his former Timberwolves teammates were willing to back his decision to request a trade.

Coincidentally, the Timberwolves are now one of the teams most eagerly pursuing a deal for the disgruntled Simmons, who apparently has no plans to play for the 76ers ever again.

Butler has no doubt moved on from that dicey period of his career and is now focused on trying to get the Heat back into the NBA Finals. If history is any judge, his teammates will be ready to put their faith in him to make that happen.

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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.