Jimmy Butler Challenges Brett Brown Over Role

Just a few months after his trade request endlessly dominated headlines in Minnesota, Jimmy Butler has “aggressively challenged” Sixers head coach Brett Brown on his role in Philadelphia’s offense, league sources tell Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.com. The situation has complicated an “already tenuous” chemistry among Butler and star teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, according to Shelburne and Wojnarowski.

Since joining the Sixers, Butler has averaged 18.0 PPG in 31.7 minutes per contest (21 games). Both of those marks would be his lowest averages since 2013/14. His usage rate (23.1%) is also down from recent years.

Butler would prefer to play more traditional pick-and-roll and isolation sets, rather than trying to find his place in the Sixers’ free-flowing offense, Shelburne and Wojnarowski write. As he works through those concerns, Butler has met privately with Brown and his assistants, as well as GM Elton Brand, per ESPN’s report.

Sources tell the ESPN duo that Butler has been “vocal” in questioning Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses viewed as “disrespectful.” However, Brown has told people within the 76ers’ organization that he had no issues with that exchange and considered it within the confines of the relationship he has developed with his new All-NBA swingman. As for Butler, a source close to the 29-year-old points out to ESPN.com that his direct style of communication can come off as combative when he expresses an opinion.

Despite posting a 17-8 record since acquiring Butler, the Sixers have been slow to assimilate the former Timberwolf into their system and have yet to find the perfect on-court role for him alongside Embiid and Simmons, which has caused some concern about his “long-term viability and fit” with the franchise, league sources tell Shelburne and Wojnarowski. According to the ESPN duo, Brown had already dedicated significant time working on the relationship between Embiid and Simmons, and incorporating Butler as well has compounded those challenges.

Still, the Sixers remain focused on making things work in this season and beyond. Ownership and management is also still very fond of Brown, so there’s an urgency around the organization for the head coach and his staff to stabilize the situation and get everyone on the same page, according Shelburne and Woj.

Since Butler will be a free agent this summer, he’d have an opportunity to join a new team if things don’t work out in Philadelphia. According to ESPN, his preference has been to sign a lucrative, long-term deal with the Sixers, who can offer more years and money than any other suitor, but it sounds like the club will need to get more comfortable with the fit before it’s ready to put that kind of offer on the table. Sources tell Shelburne and Woj that rival teams believe Butler will ultimately decide to meet with other teams in July, in addition to the 76ers.

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54 thoughts on “Jimmy Butler Challenges Brett Brown Over Role

  1. Jason Lancaster

    Yeesh! If he’s mad now, how pissed will he be when Milwaukee manhandles them in the playoffs?

  2. Maybe it’s not so much a problem with all the teams he’s played for and how they coach him. Maybe it’s simply him.

  3. knickscavsfan

    Butler needs to smarten up and understand that inorder to win in today’s NBA you need to have multiple star alongside of you. As the veteran and being the “new guy” it’s his responsibility to blend in. He’s going to get the reputation as a selfish divisive player, if it doesn’t already exist.

  4. kenleyfornia2

    Butler is either an immature diva or something is wrong in the head. He works hard but is convicned no one around him does so he has to drive everyone nuts until they satisfy his standards. Whoever gives him the max will regret it.

    • bennyg

      Trade him to Washington for Beal.
      Him and Wall will be perfect together.
      Or 3 team trade….
      Ingram + KCP to 76ers
      Beal to LA
      Buttler to Washington

      Can look at shopping Porter off easier then

    • You need knee pads to play up to Butler’s standards. He’s got this hard nosed grinder rep but he’s just out doing whatever he wants and heck with the team. Hard worker, whatever.

    • Darrin Lord

      As a Sixers fan I like Saric a lot. But getting rid of Covington’s contact worth the trade in itself. From what I hear Butler has Embid on his side. Embid not a Brown fan at all. Brown was destroyed by Stevens last year. Worst coaching mismatch I can remember. My guess is Butler stays Brown is replaced.

      • southbeachbully

        Article stated that management was very “fond” of Brown. Add to the fact they were successful before Butler and likely feel that if Butler doesn’t work out then they can let him walk and pursue a top free agent next year. You don’t allow a guy to come in and take over your team. He’s not THAT special.

        • Darrin Lord

          Agree it’s what article said. But Brand getting pressure from not just Butler but Embid as well. Brown thinks he is Pop and he clearly is not. He consistently gets out coached. I see Sixers replacing him before end of season.

  5. Is any really surprised at this? He has challenged every coach he has had in the NBA but hasn’t won in the playoffs yet

    • By every coach you mean Hoiberg. The only other coach he’s had in the NBA was Thibs, who, by all accounts, loves him, enough to fray his relationship with the team owner. His college coach loved him as well (still does).

      • He challenged Thibs in Chi and in Min. I said he has challenged his coaches not that his coaches didn’t like him

        • I’m not sure what you mean by he challenged Thibs. But it can’t be meaningful. He was so compliant he showed up for a practice against the advice of his agent – for his coach (almost too much respect).

          • emac22

            You dont know what challenged means and posted that instead of typing it into google?

            Are you that afraid to learn something?

            • x%sure

              So say what you think it means. A challenge can be positive or negative. It can be a personality trait– apparently one that Butler has, and is respected for. A typical coach only resents it if his leadership role is challenged, or looks like it is to the outside.

              But it sounds like Butler was going after his Xs & Os. This could be a good thing for the coach, giving him leverage, because it means the player is making a commitment to the success of something. So hold him to it.

              • Saying a player challenged his coach has no relevance unless you’re saying it was something different in kind from typical and expected coach-player interaction. But if people want to call a player expressing his opinion on his usage as challenging the coach – go for it.

                To me, and any one I played with on any team, a player “challenging a coach” has a clear meaning – the player defied the coach’s authority or mocked it (i.e., questioning his coaching acumen or judgment). Butler crossed this line with Hoiberg by publicly questioning his coaching ability. But nothing that occurred between Butler and Thibs is even close to it.

  6. wild05fan

    Love hearing this. Philly fans are getting what they wanted though. Dude is a massive cancer.

    • Darrin Lord

      It was a good trade regardless for Philly. Covington contract was God Awful. Butler has Brands ear. He is not only Superstar on Sixers upset with Brown not sure Brown lasts rest of season.

      • southbeachbully

        Really? You mean Covington, the guy shooting 39% from 3 right now? His contract was far from being bad.

      • Rewane

        How is around 12M per year for an all defensive wing who also hits above 37 percent from 3 bad contract?

        • Darrin Lord

          Did you watch the Boston Series? Might have been the worst on ball defensive performance I have ever witnessed. Throw in his complete inability to dribble he was a liability.

  7. Michael Chaney

    The problem isn’t the team or anything around Jimmy Butler. The problem is Jimmy Butler.

  8. DynamiteAdams

    I actually agree with Butler. The only time Brett’s offense works is against garbage teams with not enough depth to combat it. They play the top 4 teams in either conferance and they struggle. The Sixers need a new coach the only question is when management will have the conviction to do it.

    • Darrin Lord

      Embid and Brown are fueding as well. Notice Embid skipped practice with a “sore knee” Brown right away had to show his power and sits him. Embid is on Butlers side in this struggle. We all know who wins those in NBA. I have watched every Sixers game for 4 years. I personally think Brown an awful coach. Time to move on.

  9. stevep-4

    Butler is a very good player, a star but not a superstar. His work ethic is unquestioned. However, his tact probably is questionable. He feels in a position now to push and we will see if that plays out to his advantage or not in the next free agency period.

    I suspect that he is creating problems for himself, but perhaps he is just trying to set the limits on what sort of role and organization he wants to play for in what will apparently be the last contract of his career.

    I can understand that he wants to have input in how he is used in the offense, but I also think he is not very tactful – Thibodeaux made him and he treated him very badly in MN, even after Thibs risked his career on the trade that brought Butler there.

    He reminds me of MJ in his attitude, but he doesn’t have the all-world skills that justify it.

  10. Bryzzo2016

    Damn, considering his very humble upbringing and being a late 1st round pick by the Bulls and essentially making a name for himself based on work ethic, effort and attitude, it’s a bit surprising that he’s become so extra. He had issues with the Bulls staff and front office, same in Minny and now in Philly. The only common denominator is him, I guess the money and accolades went to his head.

  11. x%sure

    I have guessed that he will be leaving due to caution on the part of Sixr management, offering less than the max, and some other team doing so and landing him. There are other FAs available for Philly, maybe one that GM Devilhorns will believe is easier to work with. I would think the Sixrs are a good situation for a good player who likes to jack 3s.

  12. Butler has had systemic “teammate” issues, and it’s a real issue that affects his value to a team. But that doesn’t mean everything he does has to be seen as fitting into that narrative. This was a private meeting with the HC of his new team about their scheme and his usage. If it got heated, good. There’s a lot at stake. If he publicly called out the coach, that would be an entirely different matter.

  13. angelsfan4life

    It will be great, if Butler signs with the Lakers this summer. So I can watch the biggest egos to ever play in the NBA try to play on the same team.

  14. Meadowlark

    Ya GOTTA trust that PROCESSED CHEESE I tell ya!
    Philly is a joke. but you knew that.

  15. Guest617

    with so much money on the line this narcissistic cancer not the player he once was you’d think he’d stfu and try to fit in

  16. vlad4hof

    I actually agree with Butler and think the Sixers real problem, a problem that will keep them from ever winning a ring, is Simmons unless Simmons learns how to shoot. In order to activate the greatness of Simmons they HAVE to play that “free-flowing” style that Butler doesn’t fit into. The style is too focused on catering to Simmons and I think that (barring developing a shot) if they continue focusing on this style that allows for Simmons’s value to come out they’ll always struggle against teams that are very good. Simmons’s value is so narrowly conveyed and requires such specific circumstances within a game that it’s not worth the payoff of when he excels. He has no value outside of the paint, can’t plat at end of games because of free throw problems, can’t play a set offense…it’s just too limiting. If you can get a solid but unexceptional PG who can shoot, and a stretch 4 for him, play an offense that benefits Butler/Embiid more…that’s a recipe for a title imo. I like Ben, I want him to succeed, but until he learns to shoot he’s more of a liability than a stat sheet shows and people think. And way too many turnovers.

  17. Dude is a bloody cancer… the only way a team survives is to purge him. 10 bucks says he is angling towards signing with the clippers this summer. Thanks Philly for taking him off our hands…

  18. paladin

    Oscar Levant quote ”There is a fine line between genius and insanity.” There is also a thin red line between passion and toxic. Well Jimmy B has more than crossed it and this is not going to go well for the 76ers. Jimmy needs his own sandbox to play in because he doesn’t like others in his. It just takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole lot. Chain only strong as it’s weakest link. However it needs to be put Jimmy is a toxic dump

  19. JFactor

    It’s one thing to ask for the ball, and to look for sets that can include him more.

    It’s another to do it in a combative approach.

    You can challenge authority and have your voice, and still be respectful and not force the alpha dog approach.

    Butler just comes off as immature every time

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