In the end, Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler did not do anything particularly unusual on Saturday night when facing the Timberwolves. He is a 34-year-old NBA star on the second game of a back-to-back, and with a grueling schedule ahead for the Heat, it was not a big surprise that Miami wanted him to sit out. They even checked with the league that they were following player participation guidelines, according to one report.
But Butler still got an earful from fans at the Target Center, who taunted him with chants of “Where’s Jimmy?” after another DNP against Minnesota, his fourth consecutive missed game against the team he played for in 2017-18 and briefly the next season before forcing his way out via a trade to the Sixers.
At 1:55 in the game, with the Heat trailing, 106-83 in a game that was never really close after halftime, Butler smiled wide and began to blow kisses to the crowd.
He took heat on social media, including from Sirius XM NBA Radio host Justin Termine, who wrote on Twitter, “This has to be a joke. Butler is constantly talking about how competitive he is, and how old-school he is. Yet he needs to rest on the 3rd day of the season, against Karl Anthony Towns, who he constantly takes shots at for being soft??????”
“We just want to make sure that he’s continuing to feel good, especially early on,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Butler’s absence.
Miami Heat Struggled Without Jimmy Butler vs. Timberwolves
The bigger issue for the Heat in the Jimmy Butler-less Timberwolves game is that, with several key players out with injuries, including Kevin Love and Caleb Martin, the team’s bench players were a bit out of their depth.
The Heat’s last two first-round picks, Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Nikola Jovic, played well enough in the starting lineup, combining for 15 points, 14 rebounds and five assists, but the bench struggled. That was, in part, because of a terrible night from Duncan Robinson, who shot 3-for-12 from the field and 2-for-10 from the 3-point line.
Jamal Cain (25 minutes) and Dru Smith (22) got big minutes off the pine, but had a limited impact, combining for 13 points, four assists and six rebounds. Cain was a minus-23 on the night, and Smith was minus-12.
Butler on New NBA Rule: ‘I Don’t Care’
When it comes to the Heat resting Jimmy Butler against teams like the Timberwolves, don’t expect the NBA’s new rules to have much of an effect on his approach. Under the rules, players who miss too many games will not be eligible for season awards like MVP or All-NBA.
Players must appear in at least 65 games to be eligible. Butler would have qualified only once in the last six years under those rules, in 2019, when he played 65 games exactly.
Butler said he would sit out as many games as he needs to even under the new rules. Some players can’t do that because they need postseason awards to help them qualify for bigger contract. But in Butler’s case, he is signed for the next three years at $146 million.
“I don’t care about no All-NBA team, I don’t care about no damn awards,” Butler said this month, according to the Palm Beach Post. “I’m going to play the games that I am healthy and I’m going to go out there and help my team win. They can put a number on whatever they want to put a number with, everybody can hate me, I’m still going to eat dinner with my kid at night.”