Jimmy Butler: 'I Don't Think I'm a Bad Teammate,' Will Show That to 76ersNovember 13, 2018
The Philadelphia 76ers introduced new star Jimmy Butler at a press conference Tuesday morning, and he addressed what type of teammate he was in the wake of his contentious departure from Minnesota after he demanded a trade.
"I don't think I'm a bad teammate, but people get whatever they want to say out," he said, per Tim Bontemps of ESPN.com. "I think I'm an incredible human being, teammate, and I will show that to the guys here."
Butler also said his top priority going forward wasn't money, with the star forward able to opt out of the final year of his contract after the 2018-19 season and then eligible for a five-year supermax deal.
"It's not about the money," he said. "I've got to be able to love where I'm at."
"That's why everyone plays this game: to win a championship," he added, per Bontemps. "Getting that trophy, getting that ring, owning that point in time when you're the best team in the world, that's special... that's the goal."
But what happens if the Sixers struggle with Butler or fail to initially live up to expectations? How will Butler respond?
Butler's departure from Minnesota was messy, with the star player publicly demanding a trade and going hard at his teammates in an October practice that was dissected publicly. He also reportedly had issues with Andrew Wiggins' work ethic and Karl-Anthony Towns' nonchalant attitude and even took a shot at how many minutes Tom Thibodeau was playing him on a nightly basis.
Butler suggested that he didn't have any direct issues with his teammates, however, and spoke about his relationship with Thibodeau:
Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps
Butler on Tom Thibodeau: "Thibs is my guy. The world knows that. You know that. It was hard going through that with Thibs, but he knew what it was for the most part. I have so much respect for him and the organization they have ... it just didn’t work out. I wish them the best."
Philadelphia 76ers general manager Elton Brand also said he spoke to Butler's former teammates in Minnesota, who "loved him(in the locker room)," per Jon Johnson of 94WIP.
While the Sixers could ultimately have some issues given that Embiid, Butler and Simmons are all strong personalities, there haven't been any questions about the work ethic or desire to win of either Embiid or Simmons. Both play hard on the court, have a major impact on the defensive end and seemed committed to winning a title. In that regard, the trio should jell nicely.
Butler also serves a natural role for Philadelphia on offense, where his ability to create his own shot on the perimeter fills a huge need for the Sixers. Additionally, he's an excellent late-game closer, and the Sixers have struggled in the past two years to hold onto leads late in games.
The prevailing theme is that Butler isn't a perfect fit with the 76ers but that his tenacious on-ball defense, three-level scoring and intense desire to win make him an excellent addition nonetheless. If nothing else, it will be fascinating to watch unfold.