Brett Brown did his best Saturday night to put out the fire caused by a report that came out Friday.
The report said that Jimmy Butler had “aggressively challenged” Brown and the Sixers’ offense. It also mentioned a film session in Portland that was described as “disrespectful.”
Brown knew the film session that was described in the article, but his version seemed to differ.
In that film session that was referenced, I didn’t feel like any of that crossed the line. And if it did, it would’ve been dealt with quickly. People speculating about an argument or some type of ‘aggressive disagreement’ — if it were I would own it. I think that from his standpoint, that is unfair. I’ve had many conversations that with other players over my years coaching that would warrant that type of description. This wasn’t one of them for me.
The offenses that Butler played in before he arrived in Philadelphia were much different than Brown’s. Butler was heavily involved in pick-and-rolls and in isolation. The pick-and-roll is something the Sixers don’t run much of. In fact, they ran the least amount of pick-and-rolls of any team in the league last season.
The team prefers to run dribble handoffs and has had tons of success running them with Joel Embiid and JJ Redick. Brown said Butler flat out doesn’t like dribble handoffs.
This, as Brown acknowledged, was one of the points of contention. While Brown conceded that he could do a better job getting Butler in situations he’s more comfortable in, he’s not going to change his offense too much, because it’s working.
“So that we don’t get too twisted about this pick-and-roll thing, there is truth to that, but not to the point that, ‘Oh, now we gotta run 20.’ It’s not going to happen,” Brown said. “We have other things going on in our offense. We’re the second-best offensive team in the NBA while [Butler’s] on the floor. We have the third-most wins, we have the most wins in the league since last Christmas. We’re doing OK.”
Brown spoke to reporters for roughly 20 minutes and was steadfast in defending his team, his offense and Butler. He does have a point in that the Sixers, while flawed, have been doing just fine. They were only three games out of the top spot in the East heading into Saturday night's game vs. the Mavericks. That’s with an underwhelming bench and three stars trying to figure out how to play together.
Getting star players to gel doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t happen in 21 games, either. To Brown’s credit, he took ownership of the situation.
“This year, we’re better. Jimmy Butler makes us better — none of us can deny that,” Brown said. “And so that ecosystem and challenge, if you can get it right, comes with a hell of a lot of reward.
“So this is the mission, this is my job. There is nobody trying harder to figure this out than I am. I’ve got a lot of support around me with my staff. I speak just like I’m speaking to you with my players. And we will or we won’t. We will or we won’t. But I believe that we will. And I believe that the rewards once we do, the rewards are significant, shared by all.”
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