Jimmy Butler: Playing with 76ers 'Night and Day' to Tenure in Minnesota

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 17:  Jimmy Butler #23 of the Philadelphia 76ers looks on during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on November 17, 2018 at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice:  Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)
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It's been less than a week since Jimmy Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, but thus far he's happy with the change. 

"Night and day," Butler said about his new situation compared to his old one with the Minnesota Timberwolves, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.

Charania also wrote: "Butler holds no ill will toward his former young Timberwolves running mates, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. It was a combination of his contract and an indifference toward the overall roster that made his trade request and his subsequent steps to force a move out of Minnesota so necessary."

As for his new teammates, Butler is excited.

"Ben [Simmons] sees the game steps ahead, and Joel [Embiid] is a monster inside," he said. "So I'm envisioning what we can be."

Butler may hold no "ill will" toward Towns or Wiggins, but there have been plenty of indications that he doesn't think highly of the pair. 

"Everybody wants to win. When somebody messes up, you talk to them, they don't take it personal, and they do their job," Butler said after the Sixers' win over the Utah Jazz on Friday night, which felt like as much of a jab at his former teammates as it was a compliment to his new ones. "I think everybody is such a good basketball player and we all want to do right that sometimes we mess up."

Philadelphia 76ers @sixers

"I love this group of guys." .@NBCSPhilly's @SerenaWinters with @JimmyButler after tonight's win! https://t.co/EKvhK3z7Yr

Then there was his infamous practice with the Timberwolves in October after he returned to the team amid his request to be traded. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports recounted that incident:

"Throughout the practice, Butler verbally bashed Towns, Wiggins, president of basketball operations/coach Tom Thibodeau and general manager Scott Layden, league sources said.

"Screaming from the top of his lungs, Butler uttered taunts at his teammates, including 'They ain't [expletive]!' and 'They soft!' league sources said. Most of the players knew the invectives were directed at Towns and Wiggins, sources said."

According to Haynes, Butler also "found himself guarding Towns in the post. After Towns received the entry pass, Butler yelled, 'He can't do [expletive] against me!' Towns ended up passing the ball out, sources said."

Embiid and Simmons may have their weaknesses, but early in their careers, there has been little indication that either player is soft or has a questionable desire to win. Embiid famously likes to talk trash to opponents and takes his matchups with the other star centers in the NBA personally, while very little appears to rattle Simmons. 

The pair are also incredibly intelligent players on the court and two-way stars. Embiid is one of the NBA's most impactful defenders in the NBA, orchestrating the team's defense from his center position, while Simmons is an elite passer who facilitates for his teammates, often at the expense of his own scoring. 

The duo led the Sixers to the Eastern Conference Semifinals a year ago. With Butler in tow, the expectations have increased, and the team's star trio appears up for the challenge.


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