The Chicago Bulls’ vastly-disappointing season came to an end on Sunday when their playoff hopes were dashed for good. There’s been a lot of hand-wringing lately about what exactly went wrong, and in an effort to deflect the blame away from his own failings as the new head coach, Fred Hoiberg has pointed the finger at All-Star Jimmy Butler as one of the main culprits, in no small part for undermining his authority with comments he made about Hoiberg’s coaching style back in December.
Butler didn’t help that perception Sunday when it came to light that he’d taken a separate flight to New Orleans for the Bulls’ game against the Pelicans on Monday, due to what an anonymous source described as a “family commitment.” Via Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:
“It’s the first time he hasn’t flown with the team,” one source said. “But he will play tomorrow for sure.”
Neither Butler nor Bulls general manager Gar Forman could be reached for comment, but Butler’s agent, Happy Walters, told ESPN.com that he was unaware that his client was not on the team plane.
“Maybe he had stuff to take care of,” Walters said. “Whatever he’s doing, he’ll be at the game.”
There have been various rumors all season long about lingering resentment toward what some around the organization see as Butler’s preferential treatment since his emergence as the franchise star. This would just be the latest example. The timing is also curious given that Chicago was just knocked out of postseason contention. But it’s also best to reserve judgment until Butler has a chance to comment on it, which he will no doubt be asked to do prior to tip-off against the Pelicans.