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Eyes will be glued to Jimmy Butler’s first game against Minnesota since trade

Butler, who was at odds with the front office and wasn’t a good mix with Minnesota's young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, will face the team he forced a trade from for the first time on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jimmy Butler will face the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time since his trade to the Sixers.
Jimmy Butler will face the Minnesota Timberwolves for the first time since his trade to the Sixers.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

This will be perhaps one of the most anticipated games of the NBA season.

Jimmy Butler and the 76ers will face the Minnesota Timberwolves, the squad from which he forced a trade in November, Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Butler was at odds with Minnesota’s front office and wasn’t a good mix with the Timberwolves' young stars Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Kevin Garnett recently asked him on TNT’s KG Area 21 if his issue was more with management or what he wanted from other players.

“Maybe a little bit of both,” said Butler, 29. “And it’s not a bad thing. I just look at it as the way that I came into the league is different than the way the league is now.”

The Chicago Bulls selected him with 30th and final first-round pick of the 2011 NBA draft. He averaged 2.6 points and 8.5 minutes with no starts as a rookie. Despite that, he refused to be outworked by anyone. Butler started all 67 games he played in during his third season. In season four, he garnered his the first of four consecutive All-Star selections.

Butler, who was traded to Minnesota in June 2017, garnered four NBA all-defensive second-team honors in his first seven seasons. He was also the league’s 2014-15 most improved player.

“I really grinded to get to where I am now,” he told Garnett. “I see what the hard work, what the heart, what the time puts into it. I wish everybody can have the mentality that I have. I don’t care what it is. I just want to be the best."

Butler knows that there is one thing he has to get better at every day: He has to realize that not everyone shares the same basketball mentality as him.

Butler has said on multiple occasions that he has a good relationship with Wiggins and Towns. But one has to imagine that he would love to get the best of his former team.

He’s averaging 18.7 points in his 25 games with the Sixers (28-16) since the Nov. 12 trade. The Sixers themselves have gone 19-10 since the deal was finalized.

Meanwhile, the Timberwolves (21-22) have gone 16-13 over that time. Minnesota acquired Robert Covington, Dario Saric and Jerryd Bayless in the trade. Covington is sidelined with a knee injury for the trio’s first game against their former teammates, and Bayless hasn’t been in a game since Jan. 2.

Another workout set

The Sixers will work out NBA G League wing players Rashad Vaughn, DJ Hogg, and Josh Huestis on Tuesday.

This comes one day after the team worked out Jodie Meeks, Brandon Rush, Corey Brewer, and Jamel Artis. The Sixers have an open roster spot and are looking to adjust their roster via trades and in the buyout market.

Vaughn and Hogg play for the Sixers' G League affiliate, the Delaware Blue Coats. Huestis plays for the San Antonio Spurs’ affiliate, the Austin Spurs. Both Vaughn and Huestis have had stints in the NBA.

Huestis, 27, was selected 29th overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2014 draft. He spent most of his four seasons with the Thunder’s G League squad, the Oklahoma City Blue. Huestis, who recently recovered from a broken foot, is averaging 5.5 points in four games with Austin.

Vaughn, 22, was the 17th overall pick by Milwaukee in 2015. The Bucks traded him to Brooklyn on Feb. 5 of last season and three days later, the Nets traded him to New Orleans, which waived him. He ended up signing two 10-day contracts with Orlando last season. The Blue Coats acquired him in a trade on Dec. 31 with Dallas’s G League affiliate, the Texas Legends. Vaughn is averaging 17 points in three games for Delaware. He has averages of 3.0 points and 1.1 rebounds in 139 career NBA games, with eight starts.

Hogg, 22, is averaging 8.7 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 assists with the Blue Coats after going undrafted by the NBA out of Texas A&M last year.