The Timberwolves announced Saturday that star guard Jimmy Butler suffered a miniscal injury to his right knee in a 120-102 loss on Friday night in Houston. The team did not give a timetable for how long Butler might be sidelined.
Tom Thibodeau, the Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach, said that Butler was still “gathering information,” and that the team would have more information on Sunday, “in terms of course of action and how we’ll proceed from there.”
Thibodeau declined to get into specifics of the injury and what type of tear it might be. In fact, Thibodeau wouldn’t even confirm it was a tear.
“We had travel problems (getting back from Houston) last night, so we didn’t get back until today,” Thibodeau said before the Wolves’ 122-104 victory over Chicago at Target Center. “We want to give Jimmy the opportunity to talk to the medical people that he needs to talk to for us to proceed.”
Butler was injured in the third quarter and could not put any weight on his leg as he left the floor, leading to concern that he might have done ligament damage.
Jimmy Butler needed to be helped off the court, really hard to tell what happened to his knee pic.twitter.com/sQ5GsSWGqq
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 24, 2018
Butler took to social media on Saturday to post a caption that read, “you gotta take the crooked with the straight.”
Said Thibodeau: “The good news is it’s not an ACL. That was the big concern so that was a positive. We’ll go from there.”
Acquired from the Bulls during the offseason, Butler is one of the biggest reasons the Wolves were 10 games over .500 entering Saturday and in fourth place in the Western Conference standings. The Wolves, who have 19 games remaining in the regular season, have not made the playoffs in 13 seasons.
Butler, using crutches, was at Target Center on Saturday greeting his friends from Chicago. (Butler also made time to meet with Matthew Long of Seattle. It was Long’s dream to meet Butler and he Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for it to happen.)
Thibodeau confirmed that Butler will get a second opinion on the injury. If he undergoes surgery, Butler’s season almost certainly will be over.
The Wolves are now 3-4 in games Butler has missed this season. He sat out two early in the season because of an illness and Minnesota was blown out by Indiana and Detroit on back-to-back nights. Butler missed four more games in January because of knee soreness and the Wolves went 2-2 in that time.
Butler, who this season was named to the NBA All-Star Game for the fourth time, is averaging a team-leading 22.2 points per game. His five assists are second on the team and his 5.4 rebounds are third. He is second in the NBA in minutes played per game at 37.1 and is 10th in the league in total minutes at 2,077.
Asked if Butler might be back this season, Thibodeau said: “I don’t want to speculate, and I don’t think they’ll know until we have all the information. The big thing is ruling out the ACL. That would have been an extended amount of time. We’re hopeful that it’s not too long.”