OKLAHOMA CITY — Paul George, no stranger to uncomfortable situations with NBA management, said on Friday that he’s spoken with Jimmy Butler about what’s happening in Minnesota and is firmly on his side.
“Jimmy has a very valid point,” George said. “I’m on Jimmy’s side. It’s not coming from a place where he’s going against an organization.”
With his trade request not yet accommodated and Butler back at practice this week, things have been tense and awkward within the Timberwolves practice facility the last few days. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that Butler challenged teammates and management when he rejoined the team for a workout Wednesday.
“Jimmy’s a guy, his whole career, he made it into the league off work, off him having to grind and scratch and claw to get to where he’s at,” George said. “And then he sees the potential he has around him and he just wants guys to match that because if guys are skilled and have that ‘it’ like KAT (Karl-Anthony Towns) has, like Andrew Wiggins has, they have that ‘it’ that a lot of guys don’t have, now they just have to match it with what Jimmy’s bringing to the table. I’m all for what Jimmy is trying to do over there.”
George was traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2017, after informing Indiana Pacers management that he would not re-sign with the franchise when he hit free agency the following summer. While it wasn’t technically a trade request, George’s communication with the franchise in essence forced its hand.
George said he did it with the best in mind for the Pacers, trying to let them know early so they could get quality players in return instead of losing him in free agency and receiving nothing. (The Pacers got eventual All-Star Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis in the deal.)
George said he talked to Butler “a little bit” and that Butler’s demonstrative behavior is “not coming from a bad place.”
“He wants the best for that organization and is trying to bring out everything for that organization to get to where they want to get to,” George said.