Bulls notes: More Butler drama in Minnesota; Tex Winter dies
For better or worse, former Bulls guard Jimmy Butler knows how to create drama.
He was the talk of the NBA world after returning to Minnesota Timberwolves practice Wednesday for the first time this season. Butler had been holding out and requesting a trade.
According to ESPN, Butler dominated the scrimmage, trash-talking all the way. He reportedly had four reserves on his team and beat the Timberwolves' starters.
When the practice ended, Butler walked off the court and into a conveniently arranged interview with ESPN's Rachel Nichols.
"A lot of (the report) is true," Butler said on camera. "I haven't played basketball in so long. I'm so passionate. I don't do it for any reason but to compete. All my emotion came out in one time. Was it the right way? No! But I can't control that when I'm out there competing. That's raw me, me at my finest, me at my purest. Inside the lines."
According to the ESPN report, Butler at one point yelled toward general manager Scott Layden, "You (expletive) need me, Scott. You can't win without me."
Butler has a point. Minnesota broke a long playoff drought last season after trading for Butler. But a rift with center Karl Anthony Towns seems to have soured Butler on a future in Minnesota with ex-Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. Both Towns and Andrew Wiggins have signed massive contract extensions with the Timberwolves, while Butler is due to be a free agent next summer.
"Am I being tough on (Towns)? Yeah, that's who I am," Butler said. "I'm not the most talented player on the team. Who is the most talented player on our team -- KAT. Who is the most God-gifted player on our team -- Wiggs. Who plays the hardest? Me! I play hard. I put my body [on the line] every day in practice, every day in games. That's my passion. Everybody leads in different ways. That's how I show I'm here for you."
Asked if his relationship with Towns can be repaired, Butler answered, "It could be. Do I think so? No."
Thibodeau didn't say anything publicly about Butler's return. Point guard Jeff Teague stuck up for the former Bulls all-star.
"I love Jimmy, man," Teague said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "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. So, I'm cool."
Tex Winter dies:
Legendary coach and longtime Bulls assistant Tex Winter died Wednesday at 96, the team confirmed.
Forever known as father the triangle offense, Winter was brought to the Bulls by general manager Jerry Krause in 1985 and he stayed through the six championships before following Phil Jackson to the Lakers. He retired as a coach in 2008 and joined the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Winter also served as head coach at Northwestern from 1973-78. His longest run as a college coach was at Kansas State from 1953-68. He was also head coach at Marquette, Washington, Long Beach State and the Houston Rockets (from 1971-73).
Parker open to change:
While Jabari Parker chose not to speak to reporters before Wednesday's game, coach Fred Hoiberg said the Bulls newcomer was receptive to trying a bench role against Indiana.
"He was good, and again the thing I really liked about Jabari in the last game (at Charlotte) was the 11 defensive rebounds, which gave him an opportunity to lead our break and facilitate the offense and be a playmaker," Hoiberg said before the contest. "I think he's been really solid in that role."
Center Robin Lopez, who also left the starting lineup, did talk about the change.
"You've got to roll with what happens in this league. I'm going to do what I can on the second unit," Lopez said. "We're trying to get everybody going. Bobby (Portis), that's a guy who plays with a lot of energy. Dell (Wendell Carter Jr.), he makes a lot of things happen out on the floor. I think it's going to be a good change for us."