Chuck Burton/Associated Press
“As I’ve said to the team a moment ago, I’ve had many meetings with Jimmy. In the film session, I didn’t think it went over the line. If it did, I would’ve addressed it.
“He wanted to be in more pick and rolls. That was true. My job is to make this work.”
Brown added, per The Athletic’s Michael Lee, that he views that matter as a “non-story” and that any criticism of his player is “unfair.”
ESPN.com’s Ramona Shelburne and Adrian Wojnarowski reported on Friday that Butler spoke out against Brown’s system during a recent film session in Portland. Those who witnessed the confrontation believed the incident was not typical of a player-coach exchange, with some calling it “disrespectful.”
Per Shelburne and Wojnarowski, Brown did not take exception to the matter, noting it was within the boundaries of the relationship the two had established. And that’s a sentiment he echoed on Saturday.
Of course, Butler may not get the benefit of the doubt in some people’s eyes after the manner in which he forced his way out of Minnesota last year.
Butler’s trade request went public just before the Timberwolves were set to open training camp. He was given permission to skip the preseason as he sought a trade, but when no deal was reached, he reported to the team—and that’s when the real show began.
Butler was immediately involved in a heated practice upon his return to the Timberwolves, which Wojnarowski reported included Butler telling Minnesota general manager Scott Layden, “You f–king need me, Scott. You can’t win without me.”
Minnesota eventually wound up trading Butler to Philadelphia on Nov. 12.
While internal turmoil could prove problematic for a team with championship aspirations, Brown was quick to point out the four-time All-Star plays a key role in the Sixers’ success.
“Jimmy Butler makes us better,” Brown said Saturday, per Moore. “There is no denying that.”
Philadelphia was 8-6 before acquiring Butler; it is 17-8 since the trade, with Butler averaging 18.0 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 steals per game in 21 appearances.
It’s important to remember Butler can become a free agent at the conclusion of the season. If the Sixers want to re-sign him, keeping him happy is key.