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Jimmy Butler Denies Rumor He Left 76ers Because of Tension with Embiid, Simmons

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2020

Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (22) brings the ball up court in the first half during an NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler shot down a rumor Friday that he left the Philadelphia 76ers because of issues with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 

In an interview with Andrew Sharp of Sports Illustrated, Butler said the following regarding Embiid and Simmons:

"I didn't have a problem with either one of them. Still talk to those dudes. I wish them the absolute best. A career of great health, make as much money as you can, win as many championships as you can. I did not have a problem with any of those guys. It just didn't work the way that we wanted it to work. That's life. Not everything pans out the way you want it to pan out. But you learn and you move on from it."

The decision to orchestrate a sign-and-trade to Miami has worked well for both Butler and the Heat, as he was named an All-Star for the fifth time this season, and the Heat are fourth in the Eastern Conference at 36-22 after winning just 39 games last season.

The Heat and Sixers are virtually tied in the standings, but there is a much different vibe surrounding the teams given where they are compared to expectations.

Many figured the 76ers would compete for a championship and give the Milwaukee Bucks more problems than any other team in the East. That is still possible, but the signing of Al Horford hasn't worked out, and the failure to replace the shooting ability of Butler and JJ Redick has been an issue.

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Also, Simmons is reportedly out for at least two weeks with a nerve impingement in his back, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, while Embiid is reportedly expected to miss at least one week with a shoulder sprain, per Shams Charania of Stadium and The Athletic.

The Sixers are almost guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, but their seeding could take a hit with Simmons and Embiid out, and there is no guarantee they will be 100 percent when the postseason begins.

Conversely, the Heat have been one of the NBA's most surprising teams and Butler has seemingly made everyone around him better.

Big man Bam Adebayo has developed into an All-Star alongside Butler, while the likes of Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro, Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson have all been highly productive as well.

Given their unique blend of skill sets, it is possible that the Heat may now be the team with the best chance of knocking off the Bucks in the East.

If the playoffs were to start today, the Heat and Sixers would meet in the first round. That would have the potential to be a classic series because of the talent involved, and the storyline of Butler returning to his former team would be a red-hot storyline.

There are no hard feelings in Butler's eyes, though, and it is clear that he is happy with his decision given how the Heat have developed into a contender.

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