Jimmy Butler not with Wolves for final preseason game

How Butler's teammates should react to drama (1:42)

Stan Van Gundy and Amin Elhassan explain how Jimmy Butler's teammates should react to his desire to leave. (1:42)

MILWAUKEE -- Jimmy Butler was not with the Minnesota Timberwolves in Milwaukee on Friday as they prepared for their final game of the NBA preseason.

Wolves coach Tom Thibodeau told reporters after a morning shootaround that Butler remained in Minneapolis to "work on his conditioning."

Asked whether he expects Butler to be with the team when the club begins its season, Thibodeau said, "That situation remains fluid."

Minnesota opens the regular season Wednesday in San Antonio.

Butler, who has been the subject of trade talks, made a dramatic return to the team Wednesday, boldly challenging teammates, coaches and front-office executives during the session. 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 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. Asked whether he felt Butler was displaying leadership in what he did, Thibodeau gave a nuanced answer.

"There's a lot of different ways to define leadership. The biggest job of a leader, in my eyes, is to unite and inspire," he said. "And it's OK to confront -- that's not an issue. The way you confront is important, but if you do confront, don't beat down. The big thing is, you lift people up. Make people better."

Karl-Anthony Towns, one target of Butler's critiques during the Wednesday sitdown with Nichols, also sought to downplay the practice in question, saying, "It was just practice."

When asked whether he'd be OK with Butler remaining on the roster to start the season, Towns responded, "I'm happy to play basketball with anybody."

Veteran forward Taj Gibson made the point of saying that Butler's outburst at practice didn't strike him as problematic or unusual.

"I thought it was a normal practice, but it was new for guys who haven't spent as long playing with Butler," Gibson said. "I've been around Jimmy forever, and we always had practices like that in Chicago. It was always good competition, and at the end of the practice, everyone just shook up, and just understood that we were teammates."