Let’s just come out and say it: Jimmy Butler doesn’t always play well with others.
He had issues in Chicago and Minnesota and now, there's a report that maybe the honeymoon phase is over in Philadelphia.
There is a little cause for concern over this report, but to take it to the level some have seems premature. We’re not even halfway through the NBA season and just 21 games into the Jimmy Butler era.
When the Sixers made the move for Butler, we all knew what they were getting themselves into. Butler is ultracompetitive and ultra-outspoken. He wasn’t just going to come in here and start holding everybody’s hand and lead them in singing “Kumbaya.”
So with Butler struggling somewhat offensively over the last eight games and perhaps not being used to his liking, of course, he wasn’t just going to sit there and take it. He was going to address it.
Brown has welcomed the discourse, saying that he knows Butler is “not like a ‘yes, sir, no, sir’ Boy Scout guy,” and respecting that the four-time All-Star has “that maverick” in him.
Given his history, it makes sense that there are those jumping to the conclusion that this is another case of Butler being a bad apple. But perhaps this isn’t that deep. With Butler and Brown agreeing publicly that they both enjoy the open dialogue, perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding.
Because in reality, this report leaking doesn’t do Butler or the Sixers any favors. For Butler, this would be the third time he’s joined a team and it hasn’t worked out. He’s entering a huge offseason with a potential big payday on the horizon. It would behoove him to play nice — at least for the next five months or so.
For the Sixers, they broke up a team that won 52 games last year to acquire the pending free agent. It was also Elton Brand’s first and only significant move as GM. His legacy will likely be tied to Butler’s performance as a Sixer.
If there is concern over fit, that’s fair. Brand pulled the trigger on the trade not because he thought Butler was the best fit, but because Butler was available and could be the third star they were hunting for.
For any team, integrating stars is a difficult task. For Brown and the Sixers, who had two stars that are an imperfect fit and both under the age of 25 before Butler’s arrival, it’s daunting. Brown hasn’t shied away from that, admitting it’s been a challenge.
Could Brown do a better job putting Butler in situations that suit his strengths? Sure. Could this dustup — though likely not the way they’ve would’ve wanted it to go down — help make that happen? Sure.
It’s possible that Butler’s reputation has preceded him and this may not all work out. But let’s give it more than 21 games and one reported disagreement before we get to that point.
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