It seems the honeymoon phase between the Philadelphia 76ers and early-season acquisition Jimmy Butler hasn’t lasted long. While the two sides seemed to be getting along just fine during the early stages following the blockbuster trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the latest reports point to a negative relationship beginning to brew.
As ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski revealed, Butler has apparently challenged coach Brett Brown about his role in the offense.
Philadelphia 76ers All-Star Jimmy Butler has aggressively challenged coach Brett Brown on his role in the offense, complicating an already tenuous chemistry among the team’s Big 3 hierarchy, league sources told ESPN.
Along with that, the ESPN duo reported that Butler has “been vocal in contesting” Brown and his system. Even beyond that, citing that a recent film session led to the All-Star guard being “disrespectful” towards the coach. On that same topic, it’s rumored that Brown has told people within the organization that he has no issue with the exchange.
Sixers’ Success Since Jimmy Butler Trade
Although the latest rumblings of looming issues are more than a bit concerning, the on-court production has been solid thus far. Since Butler was acquired in the trade which sent Robert Covington, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round draft pick to the Timberwolves, the Sixers have gone 17-8.
Even beyond that, in the games Butler has played, Philadelphia has posted a 15-6 record. With that said, there’s no denying that he’s been forced to take somewhat of a backseat on the offensive end at times. Over the 21 games Butler has played in as a Sixer, he’s averaging 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. For comparison’s sake, he posted 21.3 points per game in 10 outings with the Timberwolves prior to the trade.
Joel Embiid’s Frustrations Worth Noting
If the situation involving Butler’s current outlook wasn’t concerning enough, then the previous comments from young star Joel Embiid will only make things worse. While Embiid has put together an MVP-caliber season, Keith Pompey of the Philly Inquirer previously revealed he admitted to being frustrated by his own role shortly after the trade.
“I haven’t been myself lately,” said Embiid, who was held out of Friday’s game against the Pistons by coach Brett Brown. “I think it’s mainly because of the way I’ve been used, which is I’m being used as a spacer, I guess, a stretch five, which I’m only shooting  percent” from three-point range.
“But it seems like the past couple games, like with the way I play, our setup, [Brown] always has me starting on the perimeter … and it just really frustrates me. My body feels great, and it’s just I haven’t been playing well.”
On a positive note, after that first situation, Embiid noted that he was not “upset with the trade” but more his own performance, per Pompey.
Regardless, this has become a situation where the air needs to be cleared, regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s hard to deny that Butler has been underutilized at times during his short tenure with the Sixers. If this isn’t dealt with sooner than later, then the obvious concern could be about Butler’s future and also the team’s immediate outlook.