“Around the [Philadelphia 76ers] organization, there’s an urgency for [Brett] Brown and his coaching staff to stabilize the situation,” according to a report today by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski. But which situation is that? You’re not gonna believe this, but it’s the situation of Jimmy Butler—reportedly!—behaving like an abrasive cheesebutt who can’t get along with even a single other human being under any circumstances.
You may remember Butler from such dismal, green-glowing radioactive wastelands as The Chicago Bulls After Six Years Of Jimmy Butler and The Minnesota Timberwolves After A Mere 74 Total Games Of Jimmy Butler. He has been a member of the 76ers for all of seven weeks, after the Nov. 12 trade that brought him over from the Wolves in exchange for Robert Covington, Dario Šarić, and a draft pick; in that time, the Sixers have gone a respectable 14-8, MVP candidate Joel Embiid expressed frustration at how his role in the offense has changed and got elbowed in the face by a stat-hunting Ben Simmons, and, ah, well, take it away, Ramona and Woj:
Butler has been vocal in his contesting of Brown and his system, including a recent film session in Portland that some witnesses considered “disrespectful” and beyond normal player-coach discourse.
Wait, here’s another fun one:
Butler has expressed a desire to teammates that he hopes to play in more traditional pick-and-roll and isolation sets, rather than trying to find his place in the Sixers free-flowing offense, league sources said.
Okay wait, one more, I promise there will be some original content after that:
Brown had already spent significant time working on the sometimes-tenuous relationship between Simmons and Embiid, and those challenges have been compounded by the urgency to introduce Butler into the Sixers dynamic.
So, ah, let’s see. Butler wants to dominate the ball more, in Houston Rockets-y pick-and-roll and isolation sets, even though that’s not how the team plays offense and even though the team’s best and most important player by miles, Embiid, is already bristling at being asked to play more possessions as a complementary stretch big. And Butler feels strongly enough about this to have, according to the ESPN report, “aggressively challenged” the head coach in front of teammates in ways that seemed “beyond normal player-coach discourse.” And this is complicating an already awkward dynamic between Embiid and Simmons, two dudes with egos the size of all outside whose sometimes shaky ability to play together could shape the franchise’s prospects for the next decade-plus.
That, uh, seems pretty ominous! The Bulls, Butler’s first team, are a notoriously dysfunctional organization from the top on down that can generally be expected to bring out the worst in anybody. The Timberwolves, his next stop, were and are the domain of domineering, career-ravaging psycho coach Tom Thibodeau, who’d probably already at least partially alienated the team’s two young building-block players (Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins) before Butler even joined up. You’d almost hold it against Butler if he hadn’t been unhappy in those places, even if he definitely handled his unhappiness in Minnesota in just about the least constructive way possible. But Philadelphia, by recent reputation anyway, ought to be one of the better places to be, with a stable, receptive, player-friendly coaching staff—including Brown, a head coach who will go to sometimes comical, debasing lengths to leap in front of any criticism directed at his players—and a generally free-flowing style of play that does a good job of funneling shots to whoever’s getting open.
And ... Butler’s already unhappy. Unhappy enough to call out the head coach in film sessions, in front of the rest of the team. Because the coach won’t let him pound the air out of the ball and pretend he’s James Harden.
Maybe he really is just kind of a dick? Seems like he might be a dick.