Jimmy Butler has been a popular name as the rumor mill continues to churn prior to next week’s NBA Draft. The Bulls shooting guard, who is looking forward to next season in Chicago, discussed all of the trade rumors, what went wrong last season and how he and Derrick Rose can co-exist as a guest on The Bill Simmons Podcast on Wednesday.
During the conversation Butler was asked if he would be rooting for his former head coach Tom Thibodeau to succeed in Minnesota.
“Am I rooting for him? I'm rooting for the Bulls," Butler said. "I'm rooting for my team. When we go up against Thibs, oh yeah, I'm going to try to whoop his ass, definitely.”
Criticism of Butler’s former head coach Tom Thibodeau, now coaching the Timberwolves, was a topic that surfaced during the conversation with Simmons.
“Obviously I have a lot of respect for Thibs. I have zero bad things to say about him,” Butler told Simmons. “I might have had some bad things to say about him my rookie year when he didn't play me. Really love the guy. Really respect him. And he studies the game so incredibly well, he's going to get the young guys to buy in to guarding and playing hard.”
Simmons then asked what the biggest misconception about Thibodeau is.
"People always try to criticize him for playing his guys too much. But, I mean at the end of the day we wanted to come out of the game we really could. I think guys just loved to play basketball that it doesn't really hit you until afterwards.”
“He always wants to put the team that he's coaching in the best position to win. That's why he may play guys 48 minutes. I never once complained about it. All I ever wanted to do was play whenever I was a rookie. When I didn't play all I ever wanted to do was play. Then he plays me 48 minutes. I can't complain because I asked for it.”
It's obvious Butler respects Thibodeau for how he shaped his career, but it's also clear the highly competitive NBA star is eager to get a crack at him as an opponent next season.
Click here to see what else Butler had to say during the podcast.
The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.
1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.
2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…
3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling.
On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times), Hub Arkush (ProFootball Weekly) and Jason Goch (SB Nation) join Kap on the panel.
The guys debate which team will finish with a higher draft pick when the season ends: Bulls or Blackhawks?
Plus, hear their reaction to the MLB’s new pace-of-play rule change.
Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here: