We knew the baggage Jimmy Butler was bringing with him from Minnesota. It was the same sort of baggage he brought from Chicago. The T’Wolves were a team with two “budding” stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns looking to take the next step, only to see it crash in a fiery inferno. Per Adrian Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne, the Sixers might be headed in the same direction:
Reporting with @ramonashelburne: Philadelphia’s Jimmy Butler has aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on All-Star’s role in 76ers offense, complicating an already-tenuous chemistry among team’s Big 3 hierarchy. Story on ESPN. https://t.co/DYqEAZNzM1
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) January 4, 2019
Let’s be a little bit more level-headed here for a second, if we can. The optics aren’t great: Butler is looking to sign a max extension after this season, and it has been reported he would prefer signing one with Philly, due in part to their ability to offer him the most lucrative deal. The initial headline was more incendiary than the piece itself, but there was this somewhat-concerning tidbit:
Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered “disrespectful” and beyond normal player-coach discourse.
Brown has told people within the organization that he had no issues with that exchange and considered it within the confines of the relationship that he’s developed with Butler, sources said.
The report from Woj and Shelburne is chockfull of sources from league circles, the team, and those close to the players, but the messaging comes off as inconsistent. For example, there were mentions made referencing the possibility that Butler would entertain meetings in free agency according to league sources and that there is “some concern about his long-term viability and fit with the organization,” again, according to league sources. I read this as there being interest from other teams in stirring the pot and peddling a narrative of discord in a young locker room.
Also of interest in the report was the notion that among ownership and management Brown “remains a popular figure… there’s an urgency for Brown and his coaching staff to stabilize the situation…” Meanwhile, Woj also reiterated the franchise’s position has been to make the new “Big 3” work in both the short-term and long-term.
For his part, Butler has always been direct. The Sixers knew what they were getting into. In fairness, he is probably right to a certain extent. Would it kill Brown to run a few more isolation plays or pick and rolls with Joel Embiid? Probably not. Is it a good look for word to leak that Butler has been vocally upset? No.