In an honest and profanity-laden interview with Yahoo Sports recently, former Wolves guard Jimmy Butler reveled in the glow of a 5-1 start with his new team, the Miami Heat and wagged his finger at anyone who was skeptical of the Heat’s prospects after Butler signed there as a free agent over the summer.
“Like I can’t come in and make a huge difference,” Butler said, a quote that began with a choice expletive. “I’m not going to say ‘carry a team’ because nobody can do it by themselves and I mean that. I’m not putting it all on myself, but I know what I’m capable of. I know what I bring to any and all situations, and the group of guys that we have is the group of guys that I want to play with.”
If that sounds somewhat familiar, Butler said a lot of the same things last year after an early-season trade from the Wolves to the 76ers.
“Ben [Simmons] sees the game steps ahead, and Joel [Embiid] is a monster inside. So I’m envisioning what we can be,” Butler said early in his tenure in Philadelphia, which included an 8-2 record in his first 10 games with the 76ers.
But it didn’t last. The marriage of Butler and the 76ers turned out to be short-lived, ending after the 76ers were knocked out of the Eastern Conference semifinals in a classic Game 7 loss to the eventual champion Toronto Raptors.
What happened between the 76ers and Butler that prevented his tenure there from being longer? Ah, Butler sort of addressed that in the Yahoo piece as well.
“Stuff just don’t work out. Nobody knows what really went on in Philly and we’re going to leave it that way. But it was a great opportunity for me,” he told Yahoo, adding: “Just go with your gut. You’re not dumb. All of that will come out whenever it’s time.”
That sounds familiar to anyone who paid even a tiny bit of attention to Butler’s noisy departure from Minnesota, a marriage that ended abruptly just months after the Wolves reached the playoffs in 2017-18, Butler’s first year there.
But the kicker is a line near the end of the Yahoo story: Butler says he’s moved on from the episodes of his past and is now embracing a new chapter of leading and nurturing a young nucleus.
That’s the ultimate wait-and-see.
But hey, let’s end this on a positive note. The 76ers are 5-0 after moving on from Butler, the only undefeated team in the NBA. The Heat is 5-1, with its only loss coming to the Wolves (minus Butler, who missed that game after the birth of his daughter). The Wolves are 4-1, with their only loss coming to the 76ers.
Jimmy Butler’s three most recent teams have only lost to each other and are undefeated against everyone else. Maybe it all worked out in the end?