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Wolves expect Butler to play in season opener

Minnesota Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said Sunday that guard Jimmy Butler practiced with the team and is expected to play in its season opener Wednesday.

Butler, who has requested a trade, did not play in the Wolves’ final preseason game Friday. Thibodeau said he was working on his conditioning.

Butler had been away from the team until making a dramatic return Wednesday. He boldly challenged teammates, coaches and front-office executives during practice, according to sources. Butler then spoke at length with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, discussing his contentious relationship with the team and coaches.

The Timberwolves canceled practice Thursday, although Butler told Nichols he did meet with his teammates. He also said in Wednesday’s interview that the source of his discontent is what he sees as the team’s lack of a commitment to winning.

“I think that’s the part everybody doesn’t see,” Butler said. “I’m not going to say no names. I’m going to be honest, if your No. 1 priority isn’t winning, people can tell. That’s the battle. Now there is a problem between people. That’s where the disconnect is.”

Thibodeau largely downplayed what took place Wednesday, saying it had been dramatized by the media.

Sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Wolves and Heat were on the verge of a Butler trade last weekend, but it fell apart at the 11th hour.

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