Jimmy Butler Sends Strong Message on Sixers Star James Harden: ‘I Can’t Wait’

Jimmy Butler

Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images Jimmy Butler

It’s been almost two weeks since the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets shook up the NBA trade deadline when they made a trade that involved James Harden and Ben Simmons. During All-Star weekend in Cleveland, several players got a chance to voice their opinions on the trade.

The quotes were captured in an article by The Inquirer. One of the players that gave his opinion was former Sixer and Simmons teammate Jimmy Butler.

“It didn’t have too much to do with me or my team,” he said, but added, “I just want everybody to be happy and go out there and compete, smile and love the situation they’re in and just love the game.”

“If [Harden is] happy there, then that’s where I want him to be,” Butler said. “He’s with one of my best friends in Joel, and they got a really good team. I can’t wait to go up against them and see what we’re made of.”

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Butler played most of the 2018-19 season in Philadelphia after he was traded by the Minnesota Timberwolves. He helped the team make it to the Eastern Conference semifinals, where they lost to the eventual NBA Champion, Toronto Raptors in seven games.

What the Rest are Saying

Speaking of the Raptors, Fred VanVleet was another All-Star that was asked about the Harden-Simmons trade.

“It shook things up,” said VanVleet. “There had been rumors, so it wasn’t like it was a super surprise. But to actually see it be final, it was like, ‘Wow, who would have ever thought?’

“Just 12 months ago … we were thinking Brooklyn was going to go on to win five championships in a row, and that was the narrative, ‘Who can stop this Big Three?’ It didn’t pan out that way, and now they’re shuffling the deck again.”

“For those two teams, I hope it doesn’t work for them, “I hope they stink, and that will help our chances going forward. As a competitor, you always try to look for weaknesses.

“But as a fan of the game, I mean, you got to be excited about both of those teams getting revamped.”

As Harden and Simmons get on the floor for their new teams it will make for an interesting post-All-Star break in the Eastern Conference. The top five teams in the East are within two and a half games of each other.

Harden is joining a Sixers team that is tied for third in the conference, while Simmons and the Nets are currently eighth, but are just four and a half games out of third place. Cleveland Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen weighed in on the implications in the Eastern Conference.

“It’s like you [lose] three games and now, all of a sudden, you’re in seventh,” said Allen. “It’s a crazy race. Those big moves [like the Harden-Simmons trade] can change a lot.”

The Miami Heat are currently the one seed in the Eastern Conference, but have the same record as the Chicago Bulls. Head coach Erik Spoelstra also discussed the conference.

“I know the East has taken a lot of criticism over the years,” said Spoelstra. “That is not the case now. It’s legit. There are quite a few teams that feel like they’re contending teams, including ourselves.”

The Home Stretch

The Sixers and Nets will certainly be teams to watch down the stretch of the regular season. Will the editions from this trade be enough to put either team over the top remains to be seen.

The Sixers at least have a better idea of what they are getting with Harden, while Simmons hasn’t played all season and could be a wild card. The good news for both teams is that their remaining schedules will present opportunities to move up the standings.

According to Tankathon.com, The Sixers remaining strength of schedule ranks 12th, while the Nets’ is 13th. The two teams will face off on March 10 in Philadelphia.

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