Timberwolves Roundup: Lots of Jimmy Butler news

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 24: Matthew Jong meets with Jimmy Butler. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 24: Matthew Jong meets with Jimmy Butler. Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Despite not playing in over a week, Jimmy Butler somehow managed to dominate the headlines for the Timberwolves over the past several days.

Jimmy Butler was injured eight days ago and underwent knee surgery just six days ago. The Wolves are 2-2 in his absence, defeating two lottery teams before falling on the road to a pair of teams that will likely find themselves in the playoff hunt down to the wire of the regular season.

After Butler’s surgery, the team at NBA.com posted a Blogtable column that focuses on whether or not the Wolves can hang onto a top-four seed in the Western Conference. (Since the article published, the Wolves have gone 0-2 and now find themselves in a virtual four-way tie for the No. 3 through No. 6 slots in the West.)

The consensus from the group of six NBA.com scribes? Remaining in the top-four is possible, but unlikely.

David Aldridge puts much of the onus on Andrew Wiggins in Butler’s absence while fearing surges from both Portland and Oklahoma City. Steve Aschburner says that the Wolves simply need to avoid falling to the seventh or eighth seed; a first-round bout with Golden State or Houston is certainly a death wish.

The rest of the group is perhaps even less optimistic than Aldridge and Aschburner, but be sure to check out their thoughts by following the above link.

Elsewhere, on ESPN’s The Hoop Collective podcast, a quartet of personalities including Brian Windhorst wrapped up their lengthy NBA discussion by talking Butler and the Wolves.

And then, of course, there was Friday night’s dust-up in Salt Lake City, in which Karl-Anthony Towns was ejected for accruing two technical fouls within moments of each other, Jeff Teague was ejected for flagrantly fouling Ricky Rubio, and Tom Thibodeau received a technical for jawing with Utah’s Jae Crowder. If you hadn’t heard, Jimmy Butler took to Twitter for the first time in 14 months to share his thoughts.

Of course, Ricky still has plenty of fans in Minnesota, and it was inarguable that Teague’s foul was unnecessary and simply a function of being frustrated on both ends of the floor (and rightly so, the officiating was abysmal in this one).

Butler also had some thoughts on the Thibodeau-Crowder showdown…

And, of course, Crowder responded after the game.

Of course, Butler and Crowder were teammates at Marquette, so this was surely nothing more than some friendly banter. And according to a number of folks on Twitter, Butler showed up unplanned and unannounced at a Timberwolves-sponsored watch party in Minneapolis, so it’s anyone’s guess how much that atmosphere may or may not have fueled Butler’s sudden affinity for the Twittermachine.

At any rate, it’s been an eventful week. And now, perhaps mercifully, the Timberwolves won’t play again until next Thursday night. The next six games are a gauntlet — especially without Butler. But there are finally enough rest days sprinkled throughout the calendar that it will hopefully take some time for the rest of the West’s No. 3 through No. 10 teams to catch up to Minnesota in the win column.

In the meantime, we here at DWW will

Next: Jeff Teague got his mojo back

explore what’s gone right and what’s been awful since Butler’s injury. And there’s plenty to talk about…