Jimmy Butler’s breakup with the Philadelphia 76ers wasn’t quite as messy as the ones we saw in Chicago and Minnesota, but there still appeared to be some tension as he left the franchise to join the Miami Heat. There were rumblings that Butler wasn’t happy with the contract Philadelphia offered him — reports conflict on whether or not they put a max deal on the table — and on the latest episode of former teammate J.J. Redick’s podcast, Butler expressed some discontent that he had with the way Brett Brown ran the show in the City of Brotherly Love.
— The Ringer (@ringer) March 11, 2020
Redick asked Butler a series of questions about how difficult last year was, with Butler finding it difficult that he “didn’t know who the f*ck was in charge” and that he “didn’t know what the f*ck to expect when I would go into the gym, when I would go into the game” due to how many voices existed in Philly. They discussed the now-infamous meeting where Butler and Brown bumped heads (something both guys believe was overblown), and when Redick brought up his good relationship with Brown, Butler made it clear that he didn’t necessarily have the same experience.
“You know how I feel about Brett,” Redick said. “I love Brett. I know your relationship wasn’t the same.”
“Sure was not,” Butler responded.
Eventually, Butler — who did admit he and Brown had a “professional” relationship — dove into a major issue he had, which was how the team changed up its offense toward the end of the year and in the postseason, something that saw him handle the ball more at the behest of Ben Simmons.
“To this day, I don’t think that was fair, to switch over like that,” Butler said. “Even though I think we played great basketball like that, I don’t think it was fair because the entire year Ben had the ball. The entire year Ben had the ball. So you mean to tell me that in one playoff series, you just switch it up like that? I would be, like he was, I would feel a type of way. I would feel a type of way. I would think that it’s f*cked up to play one way the entire year, and then boom, this is how we’re gonna do it. I used to tell Brett, ‘I think we should mix in me handling the ball a little bit.’ ‘Naw, we do A to B, we do this.’ Cool, but I would be pissed. I’m not gonna complain about it, but I don’t think that was the best way of doing it.”
As they both alluded to, the Sixers decided to have Butler take over ball-handling duties for stretches with Simmons on the floor against the Toronto Raptors, something that did work pretty well, even if it required changing up their roles and limiting the ways Simmons was able to impose himself on the offensive end of the floor — he averaged 11.3 points and 4.9 assists a night in the Toronto series. Still, Philly was able to come awfully close to knocking off the Raptors, and a fun “What If?” will always be if Kawhi Leonard’s series-clinching shot did not go in, because with Butler and Redick in tow, that Sixers squad had legitimate aspirations of winning a ring.