Jimmy Butler was unhappy with the direction things were heading before he forced the Minnesota Timberwolves to trade him, and it appears he has picked up right where he left off with his new team.
ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski report that Butler has “aggressively challenged” Philadelphia 76ers coach Brett Brown about his role in the team’s offense and the system in place. One specific instance occurred during Philly’s recent road trip to Portland, when Butler called Brown out during a film session in what witnesses considered a “disrespectful” manner. Brown reportedly told people within the 76ers organization that he had no issue with the exchange and considered it normal for the relationship he has established with Butler.
A source close to Butler insists the star swingman’s “intense, direct style” can sometimes come across as confrontational, but Wojnarowski and Shelburne report that the way he has carried himself has led to concerns about whether he can coexist with the team’s core going forward. However, the Sixers remain committed to trying to make it work.
Butler’s specific concerns have centered around his role in Philly’s free-flowing offense, as he wants to run more pick-and-roll sets and isolation. He has reportedly met with Brown and Sixers GM Elton Brand privately to express some of his concerns.
Butler is set to become a free agent this summer, and the 76ers would like to re-sign him and keep their new Big 3 of Butler, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together. The Sixers will be able to offer him more money than any other team, but there is a belief that Butler will shop himself around after the season.
We have seen signs that Butler and Simmons have quickly established a strong bond, so the report is somewhat surprising. However, those who followed the way Butler’s final days in Minnesota played out understand that his ego can be quite difficult to manage. Perhaps Brown is already experiencing the challenges associated with that.
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